Security workers riot over wages

South African riot police close off a street next to the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban early on...

South African riot police close off a street next to the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban early on Monday, June 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:56 PM ET

DURBAN - The first official riot of South Africa 2010 didn’t involve any burly Brits, dastardly Dutch or arrogant Argentinians.

So which group of malcontents did, in fact, cause police to fire rubber bullets and hoist tear gas for the first time in this World Cup tournament?

Who would have guessed it would be seething stadium security workers?

Claiming they were being paid far less than originally promised, their protest at the Moses Mabhida Stadium was disrupted by law enforcement officials hours after the final whistle had been tooted in Germany’s 4-0 dismantling of Australia Sunday night.

According to various reports, about 30 riot police charged into the pack which had congregated in a parking lot under the stadium and drove the protesters out onto the street. Tear gas eventually was used to break up the throng and a woman was hit by a rubber bullet, but police said no one was seriously hurt.

The bitter workers refused to leave the stadium in their dispute with the security company, eventually forcing police to take action.

Lt. Colonel Leon Engelbrecht, a police spokesperson who is handling many of the World Cup affairs, said it was disappointing that the security contractor, Stallion, had not settled the issue with its workers before the World Cup began.

The workers allegedly were to have been paid $190 US per day but when the time came to collect their wages, that total had been whittled down to $25 per day.

Officials said the two sides were to meet in an attempt to hammer out an agreement. The next match scheduled for Durban goes Wednesday when Spain, the defending Euro champions, take on Switzerland.

Ironically, there was absolutely no trouble involving German and Australian spectators at the conclusion of the game. Many clutching beer bottles in their hands, the German supporters spilled into the streets singing songs and chanting the names of their favourite players.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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