By Benjamin Parkin, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As many as a quarter of a million people have been left without bus service in greater São Paulo following a strike by bus drivers and operators. Striking employees of bus company Mobibrasil in Osasco, west of São Paulo, blocked bus garages and prevented 182 of 198 of the region’s municipal buses from operating. In Diadema, south of São Paulo, none of the 250 buses left the garage.
The drivers demand better lunch hours, and that sick days are not deducted from their salaries. A current driver’s salary is R$1,933 per month, and R$1,115 for ticket operators.
They demanded an increase of ten percent, and that their lunch tickets rise to R$22, from R$15.30. Rather, the company raised their salaries by eight percent and their lunch tickets to R$16.50.
Following a meeting on Friday morning, Mobibrasil asked the striking workers to wait for 15 hours for a response to the demand, while the Labor Court set a deadline of 15 days for an agreement between the company and the workers.
President of the bus workers’ union, José Alves do Couto, told Folha de São Paulo that the strikers are preventing their colleagues from working. Yet driver and operator from Diadema, José Emilson, 44, told the newspaper that workers felt “abandoned” by their union.
In August 2013, just two months after protests over an increase in bus fares led to a widespread demonstration movement across Brazil, numbers from the Secretariat of Transportation in São Paulo revealed that bus companies that operate lines in that city have seen their net profits increase by up to 2,056 percent between 2011 and 2012.
The news comes amidst a surge of strikes across Brazil in the run up to the World Cup, which begins on June 12th. Bus workers and civil police in Rio and across numerous other World Cup host cities have been on strike in the past week. Security guards at banks have limited banking services and even museum workers in the Ministry of Culture have also begun a strike, meaning that museums could be closed during the tournament.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.