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[Published: Thursday July 09 2009]

S Africa strike hits stadium work

Pretoria, 09 July-(ANA)-Some 70,000 construction workers in South Africa have gone on strike, halting work on stadiums being built for the 2010 World Cup.

Unions are threatening to wreck the tournament if their demands for a 13% wage increase are not met.

Organisers say they are confident the grounds will still be ready, unless the strike continues for months.

On Monday judges rejected a request from the employers to outlaw the strike, which unions say is indefinite.

"We are struggling for our country," they chanted after downing their tools at midday.

Soccer City union organiser Patrick Geqeza blamed management inflexibility for precipitating the strike.

"We feel bad about going on strike. [But] they don't want to meet us half way," he told AP news agency.

At present most of the workers are being paid 2,500 rand ($310; £192) a month.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), whose members include construction workers, has rejected the 10% wage increase offer from employers.

"The government must help us, otherwise we are going to delay 2010. We will strike until 2011," AFP news agency quoted NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka as saying.

The next World Cup will be the first to be hosted by an African country. (ANA)

FA/ANA/09 July 2009---

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