Workers want huge pay hike

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Building the 2010 Soccer World Cup stadiums appears likely to grind to a halt once again.

The Building Construction and Allied Workers' Union (BCAWU) has threatened to hold the country to ransom and halt all construction today unless the companies building the stadiums almost double the wages they pay their workers.

The union's president Albert Masuku said the disruption would affect most of the 2010 stadiums.

"We have been trying to negotiate with the employers, but they do not want to come on board," he said.

He said the construction workers were demanding R19 an hour.

"Workers get R11 and we are demanding R8 more an hour. We give them until today to negotiate with us.

"If nothing happens we will down tools and the whole construction will be disrupted," said Masuku.

He said more than 3500 workers at stadiums being built or refurbished around the country would participate in the strike.

Masuku said Murray & Roberts and the other companies building stadiums had reported strong figures for the past financial year, but did not want to pay "hard-working men and women on the ground".

"Murray & Roberts' chief executive gave himself a R5,9million bonus, so how can he fail to give us R8?" asked Masuku.

He said workers were not asking for luxury, but for a living wage and decent working conditions.

Masuku said the government had invested R30billion of public funds to develop the country for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, but workers were not benefiting.

"Employers laugh all the way to the banks while we do not even go there because we get peanuts," he said.

He said workers would fight back.

Last month, work was halted at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town due to a wage dispute.

"We cannot allow a situation where big companies exploit workers to enrich themselves," said Masuku.

"We will fight until our demands are met."

Head of communications for the 2010 Local Organising Committee Tim Modise said he was unaware of the looming strike by workers.

"I did not know about it until you called me. I am not in a position to comment now," he said.

Murray & Roberts chief negotiator Shud de Boer said he was not allowed to comment on the issue.