Brazilian police assault striking subway workers early Monday morning at the central commuter station of Sao Paulo, with tear gas and stun grenades. Union officials threaten to maintain the work stoppage through the World Cup opening match on Thursday.
Today is the 5th day of the Subway workers strike and the second time Brazilian Police have attacked the striking workers. At least 13 people were detained today. All 13 of them were fired; 60 striking workers have now been fired.
Riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades at over 100 striking workers outside of the Sao Paulo subway station on Monday.
“This is the way they negotiate, with tear gas and repression,” Alexandre Roland, a union leader, said as he and others regrouped outside the station after facing the riot police attack.
Last year, a fare increase was reversed after protests and resistance to police violence broke out.
“They absolutely must be sacked and rightly so. It’s our duty,” said São Paulo State Transport Secretary Jurandir Fernandes. However, metro union leader Altino dos Prazeres said the government would have to “fire everyone” and said the government’s announcement of dismissals had “inflamed” the situation.
The striking workers marched toward the city centre, where they planned to join a wide-ranging rally by various groups. Currently protest and strikes in Brazil include indigenous peoples, homeless Workers Movement (MTST) demanding low-cost housing, Free Fare movement calling for free public transportation, Anti-World Cup and Teachers-Municipal workers strike.
Bruno Matos, a 24-year-old student, says that he came to the rally to support the subway workers who he saw as fighters for commuter rights. “It’s a fight not just for them, but also a fight over inequality in transportation. They have their specific fights for a salary, but also for the rights of the commuters,” said Matos.
The metro system is the main means of transport for football fans to get to the World Cup stadium.
This strike is over wages, improved working conditions, the career plan and the risk premium, but also for decent transportation in the city of São Paulo. Workers want a 12 percent pay rise, with the state’s subway company offering 8.8 percent.
In São Paulo, the government charges one of the highest rates in the country. The chaos in city traffic is the fault of many years of an administration that cares little about the lives of the working class.
Authorities are deeply worried about the strike because the subway is the main means of transportation for World Cup fans scheduled to attend Thursday’s opening match. The stadium is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of central Sao Paulo, where most tourists stay.
Three of São Paulo’s five metro lines are being affected, and around 30 of the 65 metro stations were closed during the Monday morning commute, but some stations have since begun operating.
Some 4.5 million journey’s are made on São Paulo’s metro system daily.