Photo: Sao Paulo bus
A surprise protest by public transportation workers on Tuesday paralyzed 14 of Sao Paulo’s bus terminals and left thousands of residents in Brazil’s largest city stranded while trying to return home at the end of the workday, authorities said.
Bus drivers, without any prior announcement, blocked the terminals with their vehicles late Tuesday afternoon and forced passengers to disembark in the middle of their trips.
The transport workers said they were not satisfied with the agreement signed on Monday between their union and the owners of the bus firms whereby the drivers were given a 10 percent salary hike, given that they are demanding 30 percent.
The protest came 23 days before the start of the soccer World Cup hosted by Brazil between June 12 and July 13 and the approach of which has been taken advantage of by several unions to exert pressure - through strikes and demonstrations - to achieve their labor demands.
According to the Sao Paulo city Transportation Secretariat, the 14 terminals affected were closed by the drivers and the passengers had to go to metro and metropolitan train stations to try and continue their homeward journeys.
The protest, which came after teachers and other unions went on strike in Sao Paulo on Tuesday, caused traffic jams along some 173 kilometers (107 miles) of streets and roadways, substantially above the average 122 kilometers (76 miles) at that hour of the day.
The Sao Paulo mayor’s office reacted immediately and suspended restrictions limiting the number of vehicles allowed to circulate daily in the city, something determined by license plate.
“This is unexpected and incomprehensible behavior. The public had to pay for something it was not responsible for and not informed about,” said Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad at a press conference.
The Sao Paulo bus drivers’ union said the protest was staged by small groups and claimed that the 10 percent salary increase was approved at an assembly in which 4,000 workers participated.
The workers were able to secure a 10 percent raise, which the union said should be hailed given that the companies were initially offering only 5 percent.
The bus drivers in Rio de Janeiro have staged two strikes over the past month to express their dissatisfaction with the agreements reached by their union paralyzing Brazil’s second-largest city for three days.