By Benjamin Parkin, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The metro strike that left the city of São Paulo largely paralyzed on Thursday continues, with no agreement reached between the Metro Workers’ Union and the São Paulo Metro. However, four new stations opened on Friday afternoon, raising the total number of functioning stations to 35 out of a total of 61.
The Union is will be fined as much as R$100,000 per day after the Justice Ministry ruled that the metro had to operate at hundred percent capacity during peak hours, with at least seventy percent of the stations open off-peak.
Amidst the strike, which closed four of six metro lines yesterday, São Paulo – already notorious for its traffic – broke records for the most congestion. On Friday morning at 10:30 AM, there was 252 km of traffic in the city.
The Union is demanding a 12.2 percent salary rise, reduced from an initial 35.47 percent. However, the São Paulo Metro is only offering 8.7 percent, raised from 5.2 percent.
The Military Police were criticized for violently dispersing striking workers with rubber bullets and tear gas in Ana Rosa metro station, early on Friday morning. The Military Police defended the actions, stating that they were “acting in defense of the rights of metro users … were it not for the Military Police, [the station] would be closed, and its users without transportation.”
This adds to the transportation turmoil as just over a week ago 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.
The 2014 World Cup is set kick-off in São Paulo on Thursday, June 12th, at 5PM local time with the hosts facing eastern European nation Croatia. The game will be played at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, a brand new stadium built for the FIFA World Cup.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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