By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A wave of violence including the torching of hundreds of city buses and the killing of a driver has led Sindmotoristas (Motorists and Workers of the Urban Road Transport Union) to announce the interruption of bus service in São Paulo city on Wednesday, November 5th from 10AM to 12PM to demand security for workers during their shifts. The strike is likely to affect many of the 9.7 million people who daily ride public buses in São Paulo, Latin America’s largest city.
“City transport workers are part of a sad statistics of urban violence,” says the flyer distributed by the union to announce the strike. According to union officials “it is common to see in the media reports of muggings and robberies in city buses, putting at risk the lives of passengers, bus drivers and ticket collectors.
For the past two years a new type of violence has been seen: the torching of buses.” Sindimotoristas says it plans to halt 8,800 of the 14,800 buses circulating around the city during the two-hour strike.
According to SPTrans, government urban transport agency for São Paulo, in the first eleven months of 2014 119 buses have been torched and 795 buses vandalized. The death of a bus driver on October 18th prompted the union to take action. John Carlos Brandao was doused with gasoline and set on fire along with his bus because he was unable to unfasten his seat belt quickly.
On Tuesday, São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, criticized the union’s decision, “I hope there is no strike, it does not make sense to punish the entire population. There are other ways to call attention to, pressure and demand (changes) that do not include strikes in the public services,” he told reporters on Tuesday.