AnothER strikE At 2010 staDium

Kea' Modimoeng

Kea' Modimoeng

Wage disputes at one of the World Cup stadiums under construction in Limpopo have resulted in workers downing tools for the second time since June.

But, officials say, construction of the stadium will still be completed on deadline.

About 750 workers at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane are demanding the immediate lump sum payments of their R3000 bonuses whereas WBHO, the construction company, is offering to pay it over a certain period of time, with the last payment scheduled for project completion.

Tim Modise, 2010 Fifa local organising committee communications manager said although the deadline for completion of the stadium was June next year, the contractors could still catch up because the handover deadline is only in October 2009.

Modise said: "We feel that the project will be ready since there is still room for delivery time of October next year ... but these strikes aren't doing justice to progress."

The Peter Mokaba Stadium, with a seating capacity of 40000, is one of the 10 stadiums to be used during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Onis Serothwane, National Union of Mineworkers regional coordinator in Limpopo said the strike was unprotected and the union was "trying to end this strike as soon as possible".

Joseph Munengwane, provincial coordinator of the Building, Construction and Allied Workers' Union in Limpopo said construction had been affected by about 26 days since June.

"The current closure started last Tuesday when employees rejected the offer tabled by management," he said.

Munengwane said that there was some form of intimidation on workers who wanted to continue with their duties.

"Members of my union are willing to go back to work, unfortunately they were intimidated by employees from other unions. It seems that some unions tend to forget that bonuses are a privilege and not a right," he said.

WBHO spokesman Piet van Heerden said yesterday: "We will do everything in our power to deliver the project on time, even if it means getting new workers, but this is obviously the route we don't want to take," Van Heerden said.

Construction at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga is apparently progressing satisfactorily.

This follows similar unprotected strikes that took place in June at the same stadium. Workers were demanding better wages, bonuses and working conditions. Wage negotiations in the construction sector will take place next year. In 2005 and 2006 wage agreements were signed on a three-year contract.