/ 10 July 2009

Minister hails efforts to end construction strike

Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana on Friday commended labour and the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (Safcec) for their efforts to end a strike that has halted work on 2010 World Cup stadiums around the country.

The minister was reacting to a revised pay proposal put on the table by Safcec, which the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has taken back to its members for endorsement.

”He [the minister] commended the parties for reaching the agreement after a lengthy discussion that took more than 12 hours,” the Labour Department said in a statement.

The NUM said workers would proceed with the strike until ”they sign on the dotted line”.

The strike, which the Labour Court allowed to proceed after Safcec sought an interdict to prevent it, entered its third day on Friday.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said workers had until Tuesday to accept or reject the new wage offer. Details of the offer have not been disclosed.

”It’s a sign of respect to our members to tell them first before the media,” Seshoka said.

”But soon we will lay it out because it is important for the people to know what is happening.”

After the overnight talks, NUM and Safcec had reached a ”framework agreement”.

”But our intention is to follow the mandate process of taking the offer to our members to let them decide whether to accept or decline the offer,” he said.

”It’s now up to them.”

Although Seshoka could not reveal details of the offer, he described it as ”improved” from the previous 10,4%.

”But, it’s not exactly what we have been looking for, because we demanded 13%.

”We expect a response from our members by Tuesday on whether they will accept or reject the offer.”

The ongoing construction workers’ strike brought 2010 World Cup-related projects around the country to a halt this week.

The meeting to resolve the dispute was convened by Mdladlana, and was attended by Safcec representatives, the union, members of the 2010 local organising committee and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. — Sapa