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South Africans take strike rumors in stride – except when it's soccer

Labor unrest abounds during South Africa's 'negotiation season,' but talk of a soccer strike chilled nation.

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In soccer, the term "to strike" has only one meaning, and it's a positive one. It means kicking the ball into the opponent's goal and then running around the field pumping one's fist and eventually getting completely buried in a dogpile of one's teammates.

But this week, South Africa's national soccer team was rumored to be about to go "on strike" over wages. You can imagine how that went over with fans.

The concern was not irrational. This month, South Africa is hosting the Confederations Cup, a kind of warmup for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa next year.

Nations from around the world will be competing at stadiums around the country, and South Africa's team – not among the top-tier teams – desperately needs to perform well in order to hold the interest of the fans at home.

Buses, taxis, doctors... oh, my!

The strike rumors also come at a time when nearly all of South Africa seems to be on strike.

First it was taxi drivers demanding their fair share of World Cup customers, who might otherwise have been driven around by South Africa's proposed new bus service.

Then it was bus drivers demanding higher wages.

Then it was doctors, who (accurately) complained that bus drivers were now earning more than doctors.

South African Defense Forces soldiers threatened a strike after a senior admiral said he wouldn't salute the new president Jacob Zuma.


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