Just when we thought South Africa was in for smooth sailing until next year's World Cup, here comes some disheartening news.
According to Reuters, South Africa's biggest union said 50,000 construction workers would launch a strike over pay starting next Wednesday, halting work across the economy including on stadiums for the 2010 World Cup.
"A strike action is set to begin on July 8," said Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) which also represents construction workers.
"Its not just the World Cup stadia that will be affected, we are talking about power stations, hospitals, roads and the like. It will last until they (the employers) come to their senses and offer a 13% wage increase for one year."
MY POV: In this economy? 13&?!? Wow.
The NUM wants a 13 percent rise over one year while employers have offered a 10 percent hike.
Employers have balked at the demands, citing the global economic downturn.
As well as World Cup infrastructure, the construction strike could halt work on the mass transit Gautrain high-speed rail project, power stations, an airport, a refinery, a coal terminal, hospitals, highways and mining projects.
The employers' organization said it would ask the courts to bar a strike, saying an agreement between the parties blocks the union from striking before the end of August this year.
"The strike is premature. We are looking into the possibility of getting a court order to stop this this week," Joe Campanella, spokesman for the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors, told Reuters.
Soccer's world governing body said it was confident South Africa would deliver on its World Cup commitments.
"FIFA has full trust in the host cities and the government in the delivery of their commitments regarding the stadiums," FIFA's media department said.There was no immediate comment from the government on the news of the strike, but earlier on Tuesday it said the remaining stadiums to be used for the World Cup were nearing completion.
MY POV: Uggh, what a disaster. Right after the Confederations Cup, no less.
The good thing is that they're not far apart. 13% vs. 10% ... they should get this ironed out.
Talk about negotiating power, though ... 'Give us what we want, or the 2010 World Cup shuts down.'
You have to hand it to them. They know what they're doing.