Police step in as strikes hit World Cup

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The Independent Football

South African police will provide all security at tonight's match between Brazil and North Korea at Ellis Park after workers for a private firm continued their strike action over pay.

Workers for Stallion Security Consortium had already walked out at the venues in Durban and Cape Town and now the industrial action has spread to Johannesburg, with protests over pay taking place outside the stadium earlier today.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) warned that security workers at all World Cup venues will join the strike unless the pay dispute is resolved.

A statement issued by the South African Police Service (SAPS) read: "The South African Police Service will deploy about 1,000 members to conduct inner perimeter security duties at Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, for the match between Brazil and North Korea which will start at 20:30 today. This follows a labour dispute between Stallion Security Consortium (Pty) Limited and stewards employed by the company.

"A meeting between the South African Police Service and the Local Organising Committee resulted in an interim arrangement of SAPS taking over the security detail at four stadia, in Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg in the interest of ensuring the safety of the World Cup tournament."

SAPS national commissioner Bheki Cele said: "We have activated necessary and adequate contingency plans to different stadia in the country.

"Our priority call of action according to our mandate is to ensure the safety of the tournament as per the security guarantees. We are confident that we will not compromise the safety of the tournament or our day-to-day normal policing,"

Jackson Simon, the national co-ordinator of security workers for the SATAWU insisted short-term contractors were being "ripped off" by security firms.

He told Press Association Sport: "According to these workers, they were promised R500 (just under £45) a match when they signed the contract, and they are being paid R190 or R200 (less than £20). That is why they are embarking on this action.

"Most of the companies are using these workers only for this tournament, after that they will be unemployed and they are exploiting them because they know they will not be using them after these games.

"We will be effecting this strike across all stadiums unless FIFA and the local organising committee can treat this as a national interest matter."

Rich Mkhondo, a spokesman for the local organising committee, was adamant though that even if there were strikes across the board, the police would be on hand to ensure stadium security throughout the tournament.

"Any strike action is the legitimate right of the participant and we are not going to get involved. The games will be held on time and they will end on July 11, 2010," he added.

FIFA said they would not intervene in the matter because it was an employer-employee dispute.