South Africa World Cup: Why stadium security guards are on strike
A South Africa World Cup strike over what security officers and stewards say are unpaid wages led local police to fire most workers and take over stadium security.
Cape Town, South Africa
An increasingly bitter dispute over pay is threatening to tarnish the World Cup after police were forced to take over security from stewards at a fourth tournament stadium Tuesday night.Skip to next paragraph
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The first such takeover occurred Sunday night, after South African guards and stewards at the Moses Mabhida stadium claimed they were promised 500 South African rand ($65) for a 12-hour shift to cover the Germany vs. Australia match, but received only 190 rand ($25). Protests that night led to running battles with police, who fired tear gas at an estimated 400-strong crowd outside the Durban stadium.
The standoff led stadium management to call in the South African Police Service to run security at the arena, and to workers effectively being fired.
Since Sunday, the dispute has spread to stadiums in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and, last night, to Johannesburg’s Ellis Park, where 700 security staff went on strike before the Brazil vs. North Korea match.
The pay dispute is the most high-profile example of many South Africans' frustration that the wealth poured into the World Cup is not trickling down. FIFA, world soccer's organizing body, has refused to discuss the issue, referring questions to the South African police. Around 3,000 people marched in Durban today to protest the sackings and what they claim is lavish spending on the tournament in a country where around 40 percent of the population live on less than $2 a day.
Security at the four stadiums was being run by the Stallion Security Consortium, a little known private company which declined to comment. The company has tried to get strikers back to work and asked them to promise not to take industrial action again, but has not been successful. All the staff who worked as stewards and security guards have now been fired.