Trade Union Campaign Support


"The Campaign for Decent Work Towards & Beyond 2010"


In January 2007 at the WSF in Nairobi, Kenya, Building and Wood Workers´ International (BWI), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the organisations of the "Decent Work for a Decent Life" Alliance launched the Campaign "Fair Games, Fair Play: Decent Work towards and beyond 2010". BWI and the Labour Research Service were instrumental in ensuring the alliance launch of the campaign took place.

While the alliance launch of the campaign was an international launch the South African launch took place in South Africa on 27 October 2007.


The objective of the campaign is to ensure that "the 2010 soccer world cup is used to facilitate growth of union density in the sector through promoting decent work for non standard workers in the construction industry."

Implementers of the Campaign

The implementers of the campaign are the Building and Wood Workers International and its Trade Union affiliates, with LRS providing coordinating assistance and support. The affiliates are the National Union of Mine Workers (NUM), South African Building Workers Organisation (SABAWO) and Building Construction Workers Union (BCAWU).

Campaign achievements thus far

Since the launch of the Campaign on 27 October 2007 the construction trade unions have been involved in several instances of industrial strike action (22 in one year) to improve workers conditions, made rapid progress in recruitment, made proactive and advanced preparations to negotiate new agreements with employers, and established a firm commitment by FIFA to decent work and the utilization of International campaign instruments.

  • After two surprise wild cat actions at the Green Point Stadium in August 2007 in Cape Town workers received transport allowances and free transport from the railway station to the construction site. This action led to a wave of strike action across the country.
  • After a 12-day strike in November 2007 which included 1,200 workers at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban workers received an additional bonus payment of 6,000 Rand each. This demand set a nation-wide trend in future strikes.
  • Unions managed to ensure that the subcontractors' complied with the statutory minimum wages across the 2010 stadiums. Other demands workers won included the election of health & safety representatives.
  • NUM & BCAWU raised a dispute with civil engineering employers regarding below inflation increase and successfully negotiate a 3% across the board increase which became effective from October 2008.
  • The level of unionisation on 2010 stadium construction sites increased substantially since the beginning of the campaign in 2007. In one and a half years, South African construction TUs recruited over 10,000 new members.
  • All 3 BWI affiliates are currently in the field carrying out focused recruitment drives in line with plans adopted that the Leadership Forum meetings. It is expected that the levels of trade union density would have impressively increased in line with the objective of the campaign by the end of the year.
  • After a national 2010 negotiators capacity building workshop, the three South African construction TUs (NUM, BCAWU & SABAWO) agreed on common demands for the elaboration of a new Sectoral Determination for the Civil Engineering sector, and to negotiate them in common in 2009. The increased level of coordination amongst BWI affiliates is a manifestation of the impact of the campaign.
  • Currently, unions are engaging in provincial public hearings to intervene in the civil engineering sectoral determination processes to extend minimum conditions of employment to all workers especially in those provinces where there are no legally prescribed minimum wages and conditions of work. This is the first time that unions have unified and are working together to ensure a positive outcome.
  • The campaign has been widely publicized in the media with no less than 6 campaign articles published in daily newspapers, and countless number of quotes in newspapers and websites. The most recent article has appeared in the Mail & Guardian featuring the research of the campaign on the widening wage gap in the construction sector. The campaign launch was also, covered on national television news. Several interviews have also been conducted on South Africa's lead radio station, SAFM and a local Muslim radio station in Cape Town.
  • Internationally, together with BWI, UNIA and SLA the South African affiliates successfully lobbied FIFA in social dialogue on decent work in a meeting in Zurich in March 2008. President Joseph Blatter committed FIFA to bring the workers issues before the government of South Africa and the FIFA Local Organising Committee. He also agreed to include trade unions in inspection visits to worksites and promised to continue the social dialogue and trade union engagements even in other continents where major football events will be held. As an outcome of this recent effort FIFA has agreed to provide all 20,000 construction workers with free World Cup tickets.
  • In March 2009 together with SLA and UNIA and the South African trade unions in BWI were able to conduct a 2010 stadia inspection with the assistance of the FIFA LOC. This is the first of its kind in World Cup or mega-project history that a labour delegation has been given so much media coverage and received a message of support and commitment from FIFA.
  • The BWI IFA with Royal Bam of Netherlands was monitored in South Africa as the company has a joint venture at Soccer City in Johannesburg and the Nelson Mandela stadium in Port Elizabeth. BWI affiliates, Union leaders from the Dutch union and Swedish made separate inspections to check the criteria of unionism, wages, health and safety and other working conditions. Such international engagement also reinforced the existing industrial relations mechanisms to enhance and implement truly corporate social responsibility.
  • Through a process of networking we have been able to start a process to network with StreetNet International a NGO working on issues of forced removals, informal trader rights and inner city housing conditions. But the extent to which we have forged alliances outside of organised labour is seriously limited. 

Campaign phases:

  • (2006-007) Development of campaign through research, launches and setting up coordinating structures and developing media profile.
  • (2008) Consolidation through capacity building, focussed recruitment strategies, preparing advanced negotiations strategy and improved research.
  • (2009) Lift- off of campaign as impact is made in new determination and construction summit with growing union members.
  • (2010) Evaluation & Hand Over to Brazilian unions


While the gains of phase 1 & 2 have been summarised as a period of setting up and consolidation of the Decent Work Campaign, it is Phase 3 (2009) that is most important. It is the most decisive year for the campaign as a new civil engineering agreement and sectoral determination is to be negotiated and also, the year in which all of the 2010 stadia are to be completed. In general this will be a landmark process through which the campaign can measure the assistance provided to the unions through capacity building, recruitment & organising, research, media and negotiating skills. It is in 2009 that the efforts of the campaign to ensure decent would be exposed and telling as direct comparisons can be made with the 2006 round of negotiations. Unless, there is a wilful commitment by the private sector and the state to improve the conditions of construction workers which is unlikely given the change in the international situation we are in for a much bigger struggle (between employers and employees) than what we've seen before in South Africa's construction sector.

With the world attention on the 2010 World Cup and FIFA's tight hand on time schedules for completion of the stadia and related work, it is likely that any kind of industrial action on the part of trade unions will be seen as unpatriotic.

The "lift off" phase of the campaign will be very challenging and energy consuming as the tempo of struggle and contestation increases just prior to the 2010 World cup and the number of high profile events such as the joint inspection, construction summit and multi-stakeholder therefore needs additional resources if we are going to be able to make maximum gain and have a successful outcome of the negotiating year.

Contact: Eddie Cottle - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


To download some of the Decent Work for 2010 and beyond Campaign click on the following links:

> BWI_2010Construction Poster (full colour)

> BWI_2010Construction Poster (black & white)

> BWI_2010 World Cup Booklet

> BWI_Company Profiles in Construction for 2010 World Cup Booklet

> BWI_Labour Broking Booklet

> Tony Samara Construction Workers and Mega-Projects Working Paper

> BWI_ Evaluation of Decent Work towards 2010 World Cup and Beyond Campaign

> A Preliminary Evaluation of the Impact of the 2010 Fifa World Cup by Eddie Cottle