Socialist Worker

Workers' protests in South Africa during the World Cup

by Viv Smith
Issue No. 2206

Security guards and stewards fired from World Cup stadium jobs

Bosses at Stallion Security have sacked security guards who struck during the World Cup in South Africa.

The workers struck on Monday over low wages at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium—and were met by police firing teargas and rubber bullets.

The South African trade union federation Cosatu condemned the treatment of stadium workers and blamed Fifa, football’s global governing body, for sabotaging the World Cup through greed.

They highlighted the problems of Fifa using labour brokers, instead of employing workers directly, as a means of cutting out trade union organisation.

The security guards said their take home pay was just R135 (£12) per match—working 12-16 hour days on average—and they had to fork out R1,200 (£107) for uniforms.

Thousands of people marched in Durban on Wednesday—the 34th anniversary of the Soweto uprising against apartheid—in solidarity with Stallon Security workers.

Demonstrators also highlighted the treatment of informal traders who have been forcibly removed from the Fifa exclusion zones in which only licensed traders were allowed to operate. They also condemned the wasting of R33 billion (£2.7 billion) by the government on funding the event while millions live in poverty.

Chants of “Get out Fifa mafia” echoed through the streets.

Trevor Ngwane from the Anti Privatisation Forum who took part in the march said, “Our protest is not aimed at disrupting the World Cup. The government must get their priorities right—when we ask for jobs, better education and houses, they tell us there is no money. But suddenly there are billions of rand to build stadiums.”

Community worker Pravin Nansook said angrily that “The World Cup is just for the elite,” and that most Durban residents were excluded.

Other workers complained of being forced away from their normal fishing grounds near luxury hotels and the Durban seafront. Rajeen Inderjeeth held a handwritten sign saying, “We will fish against your rules.”

  • Sections of Johannesburg's bus drivers held a wildcat strike at the start of the week over unilateral rota changes.
  • Trade union Nehawu that covers many public sector workers, has condemned the lies put out by the government saying that they had reached a no strike agreement during the world cup. Officials said they would not allow the World Cup to be used to blackmail workers into giving up their battles over pay and jobs.
  • Human and civil rights activists and organisations have condemned the use of special World Cup courts in South Africa. This comes after the two men accused of robbing three journalists at gunpoint were found guilty and convicted to 15 years in prison each within two days of the incident.
  • Hundreds of people marched on the United States consulate in Johannesburg on Thursday this week in protest against cuts in international funding to prevent HIV/Aids in Africa. Activists wearing green T-shirts and carrying placards took part. Several organisations, including the Treatment Action Campaign and Cosatu, are leading the protest over cuts in HIV/Aids funding.

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Thu 17 Jun 2010, 16:24 BST
Issue No. 2206
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