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World Cup news

Police break up Durban protests

June 14, 2010
By Soccernet staff

The long-standing dispute between workers at South Africa's World Cup stadiums and the authorities again spilled over as riot police fired tear gas into crowds of stewards in the hours after Sunday's match between Australia and Germany.

Stewards clashed with police

Witnesses said several hundred stewards assembled underneath the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in an impromptu protest over wages. When the police moved in to break them up - reportedly firing two percussive grenades in the process - they moved outside the stadium where an AP reporter witnessed tear gas being fired.

"They're giving us 205 rand ($26)," one worker told the New York Times. "We started at 12 noon and worked until midnight, and they want to give us 205 rand. Different things have been said to people, but we were promised 1,500 rand per day. We started to protest because we wanted to negotiate."

Others said they had been abandoned after the match and would have to walk about four hours to get home. They said no transport was provided for them.

Later, about 100 police later surrounded a group of about 300 protesters on a street near the stadium and separated the men from the women. The protesters later left peacefully after discussions with police. There were no injuries or arrests reported.

A FIFA spokesman declined to comment, but he head of the World Cup organising committee said there had been "an internal pay dispute between the principal security company employed by the organising committee and some of the static security stewards employed by the company at the match.

"This happened, however, long after all spectators had left the stadium after the match and the incident had no impact whatsoever on the matchday security operations."

Local Organising Committee (LOC) chief communications officer, Rich Mkhondo, says the organisation is fully aware of the matter, but insists it is not something directly linked to it.

"It's an employer-employee dispute over wages, that's all it is,'' Mkhondo said. "Our constitution in this country allows people to express their views when it comes to strike action.

"However, we do have a relationship with that company and we will continue negotiating with that company to make sure this kind of situation does not arise again. We will be investigating that (whether they were paid what they were promised) and everything else around the issue.''