By Patricia Maresch, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Work on Rio’s Maracanã Stadium, the center of the 2014 World Cup, has been halted by a strike following an explosion on Wednesday that left one employee badly wounded. Workers say conditions are unsafe, and besides improved safety standards, workers also demand better pay, food vouchers and health insurance.

Inside the Maracanã Stadium, World Cup, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
Inside the Maracanã Stadium where renovation is underway for the 2014 World Cup, image recreation.

“We will only return to work when our demands have been heard,” a spokesperson of the union told the press. Negotiations with the consortium responsible for the refurbishing of the famous stadium have thus far not resulted into an accord.

Up to 2,100 people work at the Maracanã site, in rotating shifts. Next Tuesday, a health and safety inspector will conduct a review of the safety conditions at the site. Initially the renovation budget was projected to be R$705 million, but in May of this year the estimated increased almost 40 percent to close to R$1 billion.

Last week, President Dilma Rousseff promised that the renovation and construction work on the Maracanã would be completed in time for the 2014 World Cup.

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