World Cup 2014: Brazil’s subway workers vote on strikes ahead of opening match in Sao Paulo

Strike has been suspended but could return for Thursday after police fire on protesters with tear gas

Clashes with police in Brazil could continue right up to the opening game of the 2014 World Cup as striking subway workers prepared to vote on further action in Sao Paulo.

The city’s transport union is engaged in a disagreement over pay that has crippled its road network, angered commuters and seen police fire on protesters with tear gas.

Last night a statement on the union’s website said that the strike action would be suspended for Tuesday and Wednesday.

But leaders said a vote was yet to be held to determine whether workers will walk out on Thursday – the day hosts Brazil will open the World Cup against Croatia in Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians.

The stadium is located on the city’s outskirts, meaning access would be vastly restricted by a renewal of metro strikes.

Altino Prazeres, president of the union leading the strike, said almost all of the 8,000 subway employees had walked out in the past few days. As he marched with workers on a street in central Sao Paulo he insisted that their aim was not to disrupt the World Cup.

“I love soccer [football],” he said. “I support our national team. The point is not to stop the Cup. We want to resolve this today and all are willing to negotiate.”

The union is seeking a 12 per cent wage hike, but the government says it will not offer anything above 8.7 per cent. Meetings between government officials and union representatives on Monday stalled on that point.

There were hopes the work stoppage might be resolved sooner, as union officials met for the first time in days with government authorities in talks that continued into Monday night.

Read more: Worker killed in accident at Sao Paulo monorail
Brazil fury over Christ the Redeemer football shirt advert

Earlier riot police fired tear gas to force about 100 striking workers out of the station on the fifth day of a subway strike that has thrown Sao Paulo's normally congested traffic into chaos.

“This is the way they negotiate, with tear gas and repression,” Alexandre Roldan, a union leader, said as he and others strikers regrouped outside the station following the confrontation.

Activist Sara Winter poses for the picture during her anti World Cup protest in Rio de Janeiro's Ipanema beach. Written on her body in English is the phrase, Activist Sara Winter poses for the picture during her anti World Cup protest in Rio de Janeiro's Ipanema beach. Written on her body in English is the phrase, "While your team is relaxing, Brazilians are dying" The unions are also demanding that any striking workers who were dismissed over the weekend must have their jobs reinstated. Sao Paulo state's transport secretary, Jurandir Fernandes, told local reporters that 60 striking workers had been fired, and the state governor said yesterday that the dismissals were irreversible.

And in further bad news for Sao Paulo’ transport ministry, yesterday also saw a worker on the city’s high-profile monorail project killed when a large concrete support beam fell from an under-construction section of the 17.7km monorail track.

The monorail project is itself an example of a massive infrastructure which the Brazilian government said would be a positive legacy from hosting the World Cup.

But in 2011, just a year after construction began, officials had already declared that it would not be ready in time.

"The World Cup here in Brazil is the worst thing in the world for workers. They are investing in stadiums and forgetting the people" said Umberto Rocha, a director of a union for Rio security guards Fatal accidents, delays and strikes have long marred the build-up to the tournament throughout the country. Teachers remain on strike in Rio de Janeiro and routinely block streets with rallies. Police in several cities have gone on strike, though are currently back at work.

The walk-outs are in addition to a steady undercurrent of anti-government protests that began a year ago during huge demonstrations in dozens of Brazilian cities. Those demonstrations criticised government spending for the World Cup, and demanded big improvements in woeful public services like hospitals, schools, security and transportation.

The anti-government protests have greatly diminished in size but not in frequency. Demonstrations have repeatedly erupted in Brazil's metropolitan areas in recent months, with even a small number of protesters regularly blocking main roadways and severely disrupting traffic.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)