Police forced to use tear gas – on rioting stewards

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The Independent Online

World Cup organisers were struggling to contain mounting anger among poorly paid stadium workers in South Africa last night as riot police

were deployed to prevent a second protest in less than 24 hours.

A day that began with clashes between match stewards and riot police in Durban ended with similar action in Cape Town and a stoppage by bus drivers in Johannesburg. The most serious disturbances were in Durban where early yesterday morning riot police charged stewards who were protesting over pay outside the stadium where Germany had earlier beaten Australia.

Preparations for last night's match between Italy and Paraguay were disrupted as match stewards there were replaced by police, amid fears of pay protests spreading. Fans were forced to wait outside the Green Point Stadium while angry ground staff were forced to leave the ground by riot police in full body armour.

"This is an employer-employee wage dispute," said Danny Jordaan, the head of the local organising committee. "Although we have respect for workers' rights, we find it unacceptable for them to disrupt match-day proceedings and will not hesitate to take action in such instances."

Several hundred fans were left stranded in Johannesburg after bus drivers at Soccer City went on strike, complaining that they were being forced to work longer hours without sufficient warning. The South African government has faced months of industrial disputes in the build-up to the World Cup as unions have sought to use their bargaining power to win concessions.

The stewards in Durban, who claim they were promised R1,500 (£133) but only received R190 (£17), attempted to stage a sit-in after Sunday's game but were forced to move into the car park of the Moses Mabhinda Stadium in the coastal city. Supporters who attended Durban's first World Cup match had gone when the clashes began.

The protest was broken up after angry stewards threw bottles and police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Talks were under way yesterday with a security contractor and representatives of the stewards who provide crowd control at the games after the first unrest at the tournament.

South African media outlets that wanted to examine the details of tenders, such as the security contract in Durban, have faced a lengthy court battle with world football's governing body and its local committee. Questions are being asked about the manner in which tenders were awarded and who profited from preparations for the event which has cost an estimated 5.6 per cent of South Africa's gross domestic product. A stampede at one of the warm-up matches before the World Cup began last week left 15 people injured.