Stadium strike: Draft agreement on the table

Negotiations between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Group Five-led consortium building Durban’s Moses Mabhida 2010 World Cup soccer stadium have yielded a draft agreement.

NUM’s KwaZulu-Natal regional coordinator Bonginkosi Mncwabe said the union leadership would present a draft agreement to workers on Saturday.

Both the union leadership and the Group Five/WBHO consortium management would then meet again on Sunday morning.

While he did not reveal any details of the draft agreement, Mncwabe said: “The sticking point is the sub-contractors.”

NUM is demanding project bonuses of R1 500 a month for each worker. It is also demanding that sub-contractors meet minimum wage requirements for the civil engineering sector.

The consortium has argued that not all the sub-contracting firms fall under the sectoral wage determination for the South African Federation of Engineering Contractors (Safec) and therefore it had no control over the wages.

NUM is also demanding that workers are allowed to elect a full-time safety compliance worker as they are unhappy with the 15 safety compliance officers provided by the consortium.

“There is hope. It has been tough. There is a sense of commitment and that gives me hope,” Mncwabe said shortly after negotiations on Friday ended.

Group Five’s managing director in KwaZulu-Natal, Craig Jessop, on Friday confirmed that there was a draft agreement under consideration, however he would not divulge details.

“We do not think it is right to be divulging details to the media when we are negotiating in good faith,” he said.

A small group of workers converged on the stadium on Friday morning to protest.

On Wednesday, about 600 construction workers marched to the Durban city hall and handed a memorandum to eThekwini municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe, demanding that the city intervene in the dispute.

NUM said it had issued notices for secondary strikes to major construction employers involved in the building of 2010 projects. If carried out, work on 2010 stadiums as well as the Gautrain and the King Shaka International Airport would come to a halt next Wednesday.

Julie-May Ellingson, who heads Durban’s strategic projects unit and the city’s preparations for 2010, said the 85 000 seater stadium had a total budgeted cost of R2,6-billion.

The tender price for the project by the consortium was R1,83-billion and an additional R889-million had been budgeted for “provisional items” that would include specialised work such as the planned 100m-high arch over the stadium. - Sapa

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