Police Break Up World Cup Wages Protest in Durban

June 14 (Bloomberg) -- Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a protest over pay following last night’s soccer World Cup match between Germany and Australia in Durban, South Africa.

“We were protesting for the wages,” Sydney Zulu, who said he was employed as security personnel at Durban Stadium, said in an interview in the early hours of today. “When we started protesting, they called the police. We were not violent and they started retaliating against us.”

A protest started when the stewards were being paid after the match, Phindile Radebe, a spokeswoman for the South African Police Service, said in an interview today. “They were not satisfied about the amount being paid and became unruly.”

About 200 stewards became “verbally abusive and threw apples at the management” Radebe said. Police removed the protesters from the stadium where they continued to protest on a nearby street, she said.

Two loud bangs could be heard from within the stadium’s media center as the police tried to drive the workers from a parking lot underneath the 62,760-seat venue following Germany’s 4-0 win in Group D.

“Police were forced to use rubber bullets to disperse them, no one was injured,” Radebe said.

Rich Mkhondo, a spokesman for the World Cup’s local organizing committee, said the dispute was an “internal matter” between the stewards and their employers and didn’t have any impact on security at last night’s match, the first of seven games to be held in Durban, or on spectators.

“It’s an employer-employee dispute over wages,” Mkhondo said at a news conference in Johannesburg. “We will give you an update tomorrow. We’re having discussions to ensure that it is not repeated anywhere else.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Durban through the Johannesburg newsroom dbaynes@bloomberg.net Nicky Smith in Johannesburg at nsmith38@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at at celser@bloomberg.net