Police in Sao Paulo, Brazil clashed with subway workers in a central commuter station on Monday. The subway strikers threaten to stop working through the World Cup opening match this week.
The strike has authorities concerned, as the subway will be the main source of transportation for World Cup fans. The stadium is about 12 miles east of where most tourists stay in central Sao Paulo. Police fired tear gas at about 100 striking workers, forcing them to leave the station. Service was greatly diminished as only about half of the city’s subway stations were operating.
This was the fifth day Sao Paulo’s normally congested traffic was thrown into chaos. “This is the way they negotiate, with tear gas and repression,” said Alexandre Roland, a union leader. “We are not interested in ruining the World Cup,” said Altino Prazeres, the president of the union leading the strike. “I love soccer! I support our national team. The point is not to stop the Cup,” he added. “We want to resolve this today and all are willing to negotiate.”
Prazeres said that workers would settle for nothing less than a 12.2% wage hike, which authorities have refused. Meanwhile, a labor court has ruled that the salary rise should be 8.7%. Thus far, 60 of the striking workers have been fired. Union officials maintain they know nothing about any dismissals.
If the subway stops working, it will be difficult for fans to attend Thursday’s opening match when Brazil takes on Croatia.
Report compiled with information from The Associated Press.