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S Africa stadiums strike ending

By on July 15, 2009

Workers building stadiums for next year’s World Cup in South Africa are ending a week-long strike, according to negotiators in Johannesburg.

After threatening to wreck next June’s tournament unless they received a pay increase of 13%, a union spokesman said the workers had settled for 12%.

Contractors confirmed a deal had been reached and would be signed shortly, with work to resume on Thursday.

South Africa is building five new stadiums for the World Cup.

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Johannesburg says construction companies will be relieved that industrial action which could have lasted months has ended so quickly. All the stadiums are on track to be finished on time, but our correspondent says keeping fans safe, a shortage of hotel beds and the inadequacy of the country’s transport network remain major challenges.

The deal reached early on Wednesday came after gruelling talks, negotiators said. “It was tough, it took a lot of time – two nights and the last week,” said Schalk Ackerman, a representative of the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors.

The federation released a statement saying the agreement was due to be signed on Wednesday to end the strike officially.

It said it had received assurances that workers would go back to work at 0700 (0500 GMT) on Thursday.

Shane Choshane of the National Union of Mineworkers, whose members include thousands of construction workers, confirmed that an agreement had been reached.

Mr Choshane said he hoped the construction industry had “learned a lesson, not to take for granted issues of their employees”.

For the past week workers have been dancing and singing outside the stadiums rather then working on them.

But the union and the construction firms say the venues will be ready on time.

Most of the construction workers earn about 2,500 rand ($310) a month.

BBC.

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