World Cup 2014: Police use rubber bullets and tear gas as Sao Paulo underground strike enters third day

Sao Paulo shuts down for a second day as negotiations between union leaders and the state government break down

Click to follow
The Independent US

Brazilian police officers were forced to use teargas and rubber bullets in Sao Paulo yesterday after the second day of industrial action by Sao Paulo’s underground workers led to clashes between strikers and authorities.

Just days before the World Cup is due to kick-off in the city, police decided to use force against Metro workers picketing outside the Ana Rosa station in central Sao Paulo.

According to police, they had intervened after picketing strikers and commuters had clashed, a claim picketers deny.

In what was the second day of industrial action, nearly half of all the city’s Metro stations were closed leading to traffic jams of more than 125 miles and many people unable to get to work.

The strikers decided to continue with the strike after talks broke down between union bosses and the Sao Paulo state government company.

The Trade Union of Workers in Transport Business Underground are demanding a 10 per cent pay rise but the state government company are reluctant to go higher than their 8.7 per cent offer.

The Unions have said that the strikes will continue indefinitely until their demands are met.

Union leader, Sergio Magalhaes, said: “It has been proved again that the government doesn’t want to negotiate we will continue with the strike until they decide to talk to us in a serious way.”

With the first game between Croatia and hosts Brazil set to take place in Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians on Thursday, the strikes are providing a major headache for Brazilian organisers and Fifa.

Arena Corinthians is situated on the outskirts of the city, with the best way of getting there being by Metro train.

There is a worry that if the strikes continue into Thursday, many could be left with no way of getting to the tournament’s curtain raiser, which would be a major embarrassment for the Brazilian government.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is still confident the World Cup will be a massive success.

This week she defended the government’s World Cup preparations and was adamant that demonstrations would not disrupt the tournament.

Rousseff’s optimism was shared by Fifa President Sepp Blatter who said that he was confident the World Cup would be a success.

He said: "I'm an optimist. After the tournament kicks off, I think there will be a better mood

"We at Fifa, we are confident. It will be a celebration."