World Cup Security Workers Protest

In November of 2007 the workers building Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium staged a wildcat strike, demanding monthly project bonuses and better Health and Safety standards. Their action helped inspire a wave of such work stoppages at stadium sites throughout the country, and contributed to one of the abiding narrative themes of the World Cup’s lead-up: would the infrastructure be ready in time? Or would South Africa’s restive working classes spoil the party? In the end, the stadia were completed and a football tournament has commenced. But the protest continues, emanating now not from construction workers — whose employment has of course expired — but from the stewards charged with maintaining stadium security. After Germany played Australia in Durban on 13 June (4-0 to the former) Moses Mabhida security workers demonstrated outside the stadium, insisting they be paid the wage agreed to in their contract — the workers are employed by the private company Stallion Security — rather than the significantly reduced rate they have allegedly received. Further demonstrations followed on the morning of the 15th. Moses Mabhida was a labor hero, a key figure in the trade-union wing of the movement against apartheid. The stadium that bears his name is an impressive tribute to a great activist; it is also a poignant reminder that his work is unfinished.

Eli Jelly-Schapiro