20100615 world cup guard protest strike 102048777 18
Detained workers sit on the street near the Moses Mabhida World Cup stadium in Durban on June 14, 2010. The protest broke out after stadium workers said they had not been properly paid. - 

by Gretchen Wilson

Security guards walked out less than two hours before kick-off. The issue was a wage dispute with their employer, a subcontractor.

World Cup organizers quickly bussed in more than 1,000 police trainees. Most fans didn't even know there'd been a narrowly-averted crisis. Security workers in another host city, Durban, have also cried foul. They say they were paid less than $30 for an 18-hour day.

South Africa doesn't have one blanket minimum wage. Instead, it has a series of nation-wide wage agreements "which lay down minimum standards for particular grades for particular kinds of work," says Patrick Craven with the country's trade union federation.

Craven says it's still unclear whether the companies paying security guards are shirking labor laws. "In the past, the security industry has been notoriously bad for mistreating its workers," he says.

Local organizers say these police trainees will provide security in these cities until further notice. Security guards are calling on the international soccer association, FIFA, to confirm what they should be paid by subcontractors.