By William Jones, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Construction workers at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro have voted in favor of continuing their strike despite opposition from the labor court. The 2,500 strong workforce are locked in a battle with authorities over higher pay, benefits and working conditions.
The strike began on April 3rd and has heaped attention and pressure on the host city who have also been under scrutiny for their ability to meet specific construction deadlines. Especially after the country has been experiencing problems with the timing of the completion of some of the FIFA World Cup 2014 venues.
The Olympic competition will be held in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016 has so far been a source of worry for the organizers. It has now emerged that workers who are building the site will defy a court order to return to their jobs after a statement from Rio Mais, a consortium building venues at Olympic Park, announced that the workers will not be returning to their posts.
“We don’t know how long we’ll be on strike,” Antonio Figueiredo Souza, president of the construction workers union Sintraconst-Rio, told Reuters. “We are not going back until we get an offer. So far that hasn’t happened and so it looks like this will end up in the Labor Courts,” he added.
So far there have already been numerous hitches for the organizers. Hazardous water pollution in Guanabara Bay is a concern for the sailing event, work on the Olympic golf course has been delayed and construction in a cluster of venues in the northern Rio area of Deodoro has yet to begin.
A team of inspectors from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visited the site in the past weeks. The inspection group, headed by Olympic hurdle champion Nawal El Moutawakel, remained positive but said the 2016 Olympics faced “challenging deadlines”. Furthermore, the president of the Olympic committee, Thomas Bach, has repeatedly said Rio “doesn’t have a day to lose.”
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