Construction of South Africa’s 2010 World Cup stadiums grinded to a halt Wednesday morning after building workers embarked on a crippling indefinite strike. This is the biggest industrial action since new President Jacob Zuma
took office in May.
The National Union of Mineworkers said the action by about 70 000 workers would continue until employers gave in to their demand for a 13% pay rise.
The companies have so far refused to go beyond 10%. Correspondence from South Africa indicates that by mid morning Wednesday workers began streaming out of construction sites. In Durban, workers are reported to be walking off the Group 5 run 2010 Stadium to a designated area nearby.
The strike has been initiated at a time when Zuma is out of the country. The strike action has been viewed as being “is more political than economic”.
A day lost could eventually lead to stadiums not being completed before the 2010 World Cup.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Public Service Commission has warned that next year’s World Cup could add to inequality in SA.
In its annual report on the performance of the public , the commission said while the soccer extravaganza has been billed as an economic opportunity for many, SA has one of the greatest disparities between rich and poor and urban and rural areas, and the gap continues to grow.
There have been calls from labour and civil society that the World Cup should benefit South Africans across the economic divide and not be a cash cow only for the rich.
The document, released Tuesday warns that, “…considering that the 2010 host cities are largely situated in such metropolitan districts, the possibility of World Cup revenue opportunities serving to further deepen the inequities should be avoided.”
“In the context of the … World Cup, opportunities for government tenders abound, and the disclosures become one of the important measures through which to ensure public servants do not award tenders in a manner that favours their business associates” it said.