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Workers at World Cup stadiums end strike

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-15

Some 70,000 workers at World Cup stadiums have ended a strike after reaching an agreement with bosses on a 12 percent pay increase. The strike had raised concerns about whether South Africa would be ready for next summer's tournament.

REUTERS - South African construction workers have agreed to end a week-long strike that has disrupted work on stadiums for the 2010 World Cup, the main union involved in the dispute said on Wednesday.

 

The National Union of Mineworkers, which includes building workers, said details of a wage agreement would be unveiled shortly, although the signing of the deal was delayed on Wednesday afternoon. It was not immediately clear why.

 

"We have an agreement ... The strike will be called off immediately after the signing and the workers will be expected to report for work on Thursday," Thamsanqa Matosa, deputy president of the National Union of Mineworkers, said earlier.

 

Workers have been striking for a week, paralysing work on 2010 World Cup soccer stadiums and on the mass transit Gautrain high-speed rail project serving the area around Johannesburg.

 

The strike has raised concerns about whether South Africa will be ready for the World Cup tournament and hit shares in construction companies such as Murray & Roberts, WBHO and Group Five.

 

It also comes as unions threaten strikes in a number of other important sectors, including gold, raising pressure on new President Jacob Zuma, who took office in May and is battling the first recession in 17 years.

 

The NUM earlier said workers and employers had agreed on a 12 percent wage increase but were still arguing over efforts by companies to ban any further strikes until after the showcase soccer tournament. The union initially demanded 13 percent.

 

Matosa declined to comment on what level of wage increase had been agreed and on whether the workers would be blocked from further industrial action until after next year's event.

 
"Those details will be revealed after the signing," he said.
 

The unions helped propel Zuma to power and, emboldened by him taking office, have demanded big wage rises in recent weeks.

 

But Zuma has little room for manoeuvre given the lacklustre economy. Companies, too, are battling a slump in demand and are under pressure from shareholders to curtail costs.

 

Major unions announced strikes in the paper, energy and chemical industries on Tuesday and said action in the important gold sector was "highly likely".

 

The smaller Solidarity union said on Wednesday it may also consider striking in the industrial chemicals sector if members decided not to accept a wage hike offer of 8 percent. A strike in the sector would affect Afrox, Sasol and Omnia, it said.

 

Date created : 2009-07-15

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