ENGLAND fans will be faced by emergency police teams rather than security guards and stewards at their next World Cup match as spreading strikes look like disrupting the tournament.
Several hundred workers staged an angry demonstration outside Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium yesterday as fans made their way in for Brazil’s match against North Korea.
Their protests over pay followed similar scenes in Durban and Cape Town, where police have now decided to take over security duties from private contractors accused of under-paying staff.
World Cup visitors could also find power supplies switched off and public services thrown into turmoil by other strikes threatened by unhappy workers across the country.
Thousands of employees at energy giant Eskom are threatening industrial action over their requests for an 18 per cent pay rise and special rates to work tomorrow’s (THURS) national holiday.
An estimated 1.2million public sector workers – including nurses, police and immigration officials – have already warned they could walk out if not offered an 8.5 per cent increase by the weekend.
And football fans were left temporarily stranded after 60 bus workers staged an impromptu strike after a game at Johannesburg’s Soccer City on Monday, though returned to work yesterday after a deal was agreed.
World football governing body Fifa called in police after attempts to resolve a row between stadium stewards and contractors Stallion Security Consortium broke down.
This followed clashes between riot police and stewards upset at being paid less than promised, following the Germany-Australia match in Durban in the early hours of Monday.
Police have now taken over from Stallion at Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium and Cape Town’s Green Point stadium, where England face Algeria on Friday.
A reported 2,000 workers marched outside the Durban stadium yesterday, though many dispersed after accepting money to hand over their orange bibs.
Fifa officials had been confident of no similar scenes at Ellis Park yesterday, but a demonstration did get under way early in the afternoon.
Trade union official Jackson Simon said: ‘We have asked our provincial leaders to go to stadiums and co-ordinate what we have to do to defend our members against exploitation.’
Workers employed for 12-hour have shifts suggested they had been promised up to 1,500 Rand (£134) per day – only to be given as little as 205 Rand (£18) apiece.
Some have said pay rates have been continuously falling – or not being paid at all.
An Eskom walk-out could hit power supplies to shops, hotels, restaurants and bars used by thousands of supporters.
The ten World Cup stadia all have back-up generators, but parts of Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium did suffer a power cut on Saturday.
The ‘illegal’ bus driver strike came as Dutch and Danish supporters emerged from Soccer City following Monday’s match.
About 800 supporters were eventually given free rail tickets then put on replacement buses to their original destinations.
The bus drivers were unhappy about being asked to work longer shifts, and for less money, than expected.
But they were returning to work yesterday (TUES) after a deal was reached.
Jackie Huntley, chief executive of bus contractors Clidet, said: ‘I apologise to commuters and spectators for any confusion and inconvenience that was caused.
‘We are hoping that the rest of the Soccer World Cup period will run smoothly and that we are able to transport thousands of fans to Ellis Park and Soccer City to watch their teams in action.’