By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The bus drivers’ strike in Rio de Janeiro, which started at dawn today (Monday, June 11th), is already causing problems on the Transcarioca, Transoeste and Transolímpica BRT lines. According to the City’s Operations Center, the transportation system is operating ‘with irregularity’.
The bus drivers’ union in Rio (Sintraturb) announced that the work stoppage will occur gradually, with part of the drivers stopping today, another part on Tuesday and so on, until only the minimum number of drivers are active as allowed by law. They shared that the objective of this strategy is to minimize the impact suffered by commuters.
The bus driver union demands a compensation adjustment, in salary, reconciling the thirteenth salary payment and all delayed vacations, in addition to improving benefits such as the food allowance reimbursement. Sebastião José, president of the union, said the employees want a ten percent increase in wages, as well as a health plan.
“Unfortunately it is the users who will pay the price of the irresponsibility of the company owners. The category now lives in a true state of slavery, where many professionals work more than sixteen hours a day,” José said in a statement.
The buses have technically been on strike since the 4th of this month. On the night of last Thursday (June 7th), they rejected a proposal of an agreement sent by Rio Busibus, the union of the companies, and decided to start the standstill today.
Bus companies have not yet released a report on the number of vehicles stopped, but have already admitted that the fleet in circulation is reduced. The city council issued a warning about the stoppage and recommended that people use other means of transport, such as trains, subways, boats or VLTs, which are functioning normally.
Sintraturb Rio so far has reported that drivers from five companies have completely stopped activities: Ideal, Paranapuan, Real, Redentor and Três Amigos. They number around 4,500 professionals and serve the North, South and West of the state.
This comes just weeks after the entire country saw a nine day protest by truck drivers with roadblocks that paralyzed the flow of production across Brazil. The event caused an estimated loss of at least R$34 billion to the country’s economy.
The last major bus strike in Rio de Janeiro happened in 2014 just weeks ahead of the World Cup, and lead to vandalism and damage to hundreds of buses.