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Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 16:58 UK

Bid to halt SA World Cup strike

Protesters and police outside Green Point Staduim, 9 July
Police are monitoring all 2010 World Cup sites throughout South Africa

Mediation efforts are under way in South Africa in a bid to end a national strike which has brought construction at 2010 World Cup sites to a halt.

Some 70,000 workers downed tools on Wednesday demanding a 13% pay rise but employers are only offering 10%.

Construction companies have described other union demands as "unacceptable".

Representatives from the government, unions, companies and the World Cup local organising committee are in talks at a mediation centre in Johannesburg.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Johannesburg says apart from the pay rise, the workers want their contracts rewritten to include paternity leave - as well as allowances for food and days affected by bad weather.

The employers say that would increase labour costs by more than 50%.

South Africa's Talk Radio 702 reports that union bosses have said negotiations are going well but could continue late into Thursday night.

For now, World Cup organisers are staying calm, our reporter says. Organisers expect stadiums to be completed in December, months before the first game in June 2010.

However, Gautrain, Gauteng province's new high speed rail link, is likely to be affected if an agreement is not reached soon. It is due to be completed just two weeks before the tournament starts.

On Monday, a court ruled in favour of the unions during a case brought by construction company Murray and Roberts to have the strike declared illegal.

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