Construction workers on the soccer stadiums being built for the 2010 World Cup have put down their tools and demanded a 13 percent pay raise.
The unions threatened to stay out indefinitely after their employers tried – and failed – to convince judges that they should outlaw the strike.
Five new stadiums are being built for the competition, which is staged every four years, and five grounds are being modernised.
“The government must help us, otherwise we are going to delay 2010. We will strike until 2011,” union spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told AFP news agency.
The South African Press Association reported that workers demonstrating outside Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium were forced to disperse because their legal application to protest was turned down.
Several news services are saying if the strike continues another big worry will be completing the high-speed rail link between the airport and Johannesburg. It’s scheduled to start running two weeks before the tournament starts.
At the end of May UEFA – European football’s governing body – warned the Ukraine that builders need to get busy if the country’s going to meet the Nov. 30 deadline for demonstrating their stadiums are ready for the 2012 European soccer finals.
The Ukraine, which is co-hosting the tournament with Poland, has UEFA’s commitment only to the stadiums at Kiev and Donetsk, although there’s still concern over the latter’s local infrastructure such as the readiness of roads, airports and hotels.
UEFA has already given the OK to the Polish stadiums in Warsaw, Poznan, Wroclaw and Gdansk, and Ukraine will be worried that the vast majority of the tournament gets moved to its neighbour.