The noisy plastic trumpet being blown incessantly by fans at the World Cup in South Africa could soon become the instrument of choice for French unions protesting government pension reforms.
Jose Pecci, the chief executive of France's exclusive importer of vuvuzelas, told Reuters on Wednesday that he had been flooded with thousands of orders in recent days -- many from unionists requesting speedy delivery.
French unions have announced a day of protest on June 24 to march against government austerity measures, including plans to raise the retirement age to 62 from 60.
"For the past few days I've been getting several thousand orders per day. They're threatening to crash our website," said Pecci, who runs AGM-TEC Beauzelle, based in the outskirts of Toulouse, southern France.
"For bulk orders, unionists have demanded rapid delivery. As we can deliver within a week, they have been placing orders," he added.
Faced with the surge in demand, AGM-TEC has raised its own orders of vuvuzelas tenfold and now imports 10,000 of the long trumpets every four days, each at a cost of about 10 euros plus postage.
Pecci said sports club fans, choirs and "lots people who wanted to be better heard" were also buying them. He said French riot police had come by to test them out, apparently in anticipation of a noisy showdown with unions.
South Africa's World Cup organising committee has ruled out banning the instruments from South African stadiums despite complaints from teams that they are unable to communicate on the field over the din.
A global hearing foundation has said the long thin trumpet is the loudest of all fan instruments and can cause permanent hearing loss.
The vuvuzela industry is worth 50 million rand ($6.45 million) in South Africa and Europe, according to Cape Town-based Neil van Schalkwyk, who developed the vuvuzela seven years ago.
ReutersLast Mod: 17 Haziran 2010, 09:06