By Lucy Jordan, Senior Contributing Reporter
BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL – A strike by workers in Brazil’s Ministry of Culture could mean that most of the country’s museums are closed during next month’s World Cup, just as hundreds of thousands of tourists arrive in the country. The strike is one of many to hit Brazil in recent weeks, as servers across various industries take advantage of international attention to demand higher pay and other benefits.
Members of IBRAM, the Brazilian Institute of Museums, have been on strike since May 12th, and say that there is no forecast of when the action will end. Services have been suspended at museums including the Belas Artes e Villa-Lobos museum, in Rio de Janeiro, and the Inconfidência museum, in Ouro Preto. As well as museums, some libraries and theaters are closed.
As many as 600,000 foreign tourists are expected to arrive in Brazil over the next three weeks for the World Cup, which begins on June 12th. Last month, the president of IBRAM, Angelo Oswaldo de Araújo Santos, told reporters that research showed that fifty percent of foreign and domestic tourists traveling in Brazil for last year’s Confederations Cup had cited museums as the second attraction they planned to visit in Brazil, after football matches.
Michel Correia, an IBRAM worker and one of the organizers of the strike, told The Rio Times that seventy percent of the 2,600 employees working in IBRAM-administered museums across the country were on strike. “Whether the strike will continue during the World Cup or not depends only on the government. We would rather that the Cup occurs with all cultural facilities in operation,” he said, adding that IBRAM museums received about 1.2 million visitors last year.
IBRAM employees say that their pay scale is the worst in the executive branch, and has been frozen since 2007. “For ten years we have had agreements that have been signed with the government that have not been met,” Correia said.
Brazilian workers across various industries have going on strike ahead of the World Cup. A bus drivers strike caused chaotic overcrowding in the metro system of São Paulo, Latin America’s largest city this week.
Civil police in eleven states staged a 24 hour work slowdown on Wednesday, and Rio’s civil police have extended their strike for a further 24 hours today. Last week Greater Recife saw seven murders in seven hours during a military police strike.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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