Rio de Janeiro: Metro workers threaten strike from Aug 4

Workers on Rio de Janeiro’s subway will go on strike on the eve of the Olympics opening ceremony if they do not get a decent raise, a spokesman said Thursday.

“If there’s no advance in the negotiations, there will be a metro strike from midnight on August 4,” said Eliel Vieira Santos Filho, a leader of the subway workers’ union Simerj.

He told AFP the strike would be indefinite — a potential transportation nightmare for the August 5 opening ceremony and the Games, which run through August 21.

The union complains that management’s offer in ongoing salary negotiations, a five percent raise, is not nearly enough to keep pace with inflation, currently 8.84 percent.

“Five percent, Olympic shame!” the union said in a statement — a headline printed in giant letters in the green and yellow of the Brazilian flag.

Workers are demanding at least 9.83 percent.

The union’s general assembly is due to vote Wednesday whether to strike.

Rio’s newly expanded subway is the backbone of Brazil’s Olympics transportation plans.

The country is no stranger to the bargaining power that such mega-events can hold.

Subway workers in Sao Paulo went on strike in 2014 just before Brazil hosted the World Cup, paralyzing the city for five tense days before reaching a deal with management.

Strikes by ground workers at Rio de Janeiro’s airports and bus drivers in Natal also gave World Cup organizers indigestion.