By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A strike by bus drivers on Thursday (May 8) morning caught authorities and commuters by surprise, paralyzing public transportation in the city of Rio. Further small groups of protesters have blocked roadways in Zona Oeste (West Zone), and reports indicate the Metro (subway) has temporarily stopped selling tickets due to the complications.
Reports indicate a splinter group of the Sindicato dos Rodoviários (Union of the Roads) decided on the work stoppage for 24 hours after a protest last night and a quick meeting in front of the city of Rio Administrative Center, in Cidade Nova, which decided to strike at around 8PM.
Throughout the morning, representatives of the group set up pickets in all garages from 44 bus companies that run around the state capital, informing workers about the stoppage.
An agreement reached between the Union of Drivers in Rio de Janeiro (Rio – Sintraturb) and employer association – Rio Ônibus, granted a salary increase of ten percent and an increase in the “cesta básica” (consumer basket) from R$120 to R$150 with a R$10 rebate according to one of the representatives.
However members of the negotiating committee were reportedly unsatisfied with the deal, looking for a wage increase of forty percent and a consumer basket of R$400. “We are open to negotiate, but the ten percent that was given, we will not accept,” Hélio Teodor a negotiator for the group told Agencia Brasil.
Sintraturb said in a statement that they agreed with Rio Ônibus adjustment, which was determined based on the comparison from other states. The said the deal was proposed at the meeting and “approved by wide majority.” The union president, José Carlos Sacramento spoke out against the dissident movement, which he described as “political.”
Public transportation continues to be a hot button in Rio, and in February protesters gathered on the main streets of Rio de Janeiro’s Centro neighborhood to demonstrate against the increase from R$2.75 to R$3 in the city’s bus fares. Demonstrators gathered in front of the Candelária church and marched down avenues Presidente Vargas and Rio Branco, located in front of Rio’s City Hall.
The last major bus driver strike in the State of Rio, which had taken thousands of buses off the road and resulted in long queues in over fifteen cities and towns, was in 2012 when Regional Workers Tribunal (TRT) meeting between the bus workers union and the bus companies failed to reach an agreement.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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