Buses in Rio de Janeiro returned to normal operations today after a strike immobilized the city for two days. The strike began Tuesday and left hundreds of thousands of commuters without transportation. According to Alexandre Almeida, the Rio Onibus press officer, at the start of the strike over 7,500 buses—comprising 84 percent of the city’s bus fleet—were halted. Bus drivers initially began striking for 24 hours last Thursday and decided to reinitiate the strike after their demands for better working conditions and a 40 percent salary increase were not met.
Between last week and this week’s strike, over 700 buses have been damaged as part of the protest and strike. The Transônibus union, which represents 36 bus companies across Rio de Janeiro state, reached an agreement with transportation companies for a 10 percent increase in salaries, but drivers rejected the proposal. The Central Sindical e Popular Conlutas (Trade Union and People Center—CSP), representing the drivers, complained that the agreement between the union and the companies “still eliminates 28,000 fair-collector jobs.” Hélio Teodoro, a leader of the striking bus drivers, stressed the importance of including the bus drivers themselves in the discussions. “The solution is the union and the companies sitting down with us to negotiate,” he said.
With less than a month until the 2014 World Cup begins, an increase in strikes and protests has left many wondering if the city is prepared to take on the over 600,000 tourists that will be traveling to Rio de Janeiro for the games.