By Anna Kaiser, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Infraero’s airport employees in Brazil went on strike early Wednesday morning, effectively reducing airport staff by 75 percent in 63 airports across the country. No agreement has been reached between the striking employees and the airport corporation, nor the government, and travelers in Brazil should expect delays in coming days.
Rio’s International Airport, Galeão was among the most affected by the strike, which also took place in the cities of São Paulo, Recife, Fortaleza, Vitória and Salvador. Congonhas airport, located in São Paulo, where eighty percent of employees were on strike, experienced the worst delays.
Child and health care, as well as improved salaries, are among the workers’ demands in the wake of the Brazilian government’s decision to privatize airports countrywide.
Francisco Lemos, president of the National Airport Workers’ Syndicate (SINA), said that the strike will continue because no one has tried to negotiate with the workers.
“I think it’s very irresponsible that no one has approached us to talk. We are ready to sit and negotiate in Brasília. The union has a committee ready and just waiting for a counteroffer,” Lemos told O Globo yesterday.
For its part, Infraero - the government organ in charge of operating airports – claimed it was already negotiating with the workers. “The company would like to clarify that its employees’ salaries are up to date and is still negotiating with the union to reach a collective agreement that serves the interest of the staff and Infraero,” it said in a press release yesterday.
Of the 1,524 domestic flights scheduled between 12AM and 3PM on Wednesday, July 31st, 230 were delayed and 87 were canceled. Both of Rio de Janeiro’s airports experienced delays, Galeão had twenty percent of its scheduled flights delayed, while domestic airport, Santos Dumont, saw fourteen percent of scheduled flights delayed and ten percent canceled.
Infraero has launched a contingency plan to keep airports afloat during the strike by maintaining essential services. The understaffed airports will be temporarily serviced by agents from the National Treasury and the Federal Police.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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