Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Interesting news coming out of South Africa today that around 70,000 construction workers have gone on strike, including a number working on getting the stadiums ready for next year's World Cup finals.

There are six new stadiums being built and four of the existing ones are being renovated.

It always seems that before every World Cup, Olympics, Euros or whatever there are scare stories that come out saying that the necessary venues might not be ready. These of course always end up as nothing more than scaremongering and an opportunity to fill copy on quiet news days.

I'm sure it will be the same here, although a cautionary word of warning came from the organisers who said that they are confident the grounds will be ready "unless the strike continues for months".

This in itself is newsworthy, as usually in such circumstances there is never any word of doubt raised. It is also interesting to note that the Unions involved have stated that the strike is indefinite.

And it won't just affect the stadiums itself. New and improved rail links from Johannesburg airport are scheduled to open just two weeks before the Finals start. That's already tight. Any delay could thrown fans' travel plans into chaos.

With the World Cup meaning so much not just to the country, but to the continent, there is little doubt that things will not be allowed to fall too far behind and everything will be resolved, but what bargaining powers and leverage this will give the Unions.

With the average wage being around GBP192/$310 per month for the workers, and considering how much money stands to be made from the finished work, good luck to them. That's my union background coming out there!

Maybe we can all guarantee the workers worldwide support if they make sure that the stadiums are soundproofed for horn noise.


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