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Brazil subway workers strike enters 3rd day

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 7, 2014 at 9:39 pm •  Published: June 7, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) — The company that runs the subway system in the city hosting the World Cup opening match said Saturday that all five of its lines were operating either partially or normally as workers enter the third day of a strike for higher wages.

Maria Figaro, spokeswoman for the subway workers union said the lines were being operated by management personnel and newly hired trainees.

"The strike will most likely continue until our demands are met," Figaro said.

She said the union reduced its initial demand, from a 16 to 12.2 percent wage hike, but the company insists it can only afford an 8.7 percent raise.

The subway strike in Sao Paulo illustrates the potential for disruptions during the World Cup, which opens here on Thursday. The more than 3.5 million people who use the city's public transit systems on weekdays faced chaos as subway lines operated in recent days with limited service.

The Sao Paulo Regional Labor Court is scheduled to rule Sunday on the legality of the strike.

The strike worries authorities because most soccer fans heading to the Itaquerao stadium for the opening match will need to use the subway.

Cup organizers have fretted for that a resurgence of mass anti-government protests could mar soccer's premier event, with all the world watching.

But in recent weeks, strikes by public transport workers, police, teachers and others in several Cup host cities has proved more disruptive than anti-government demonstrations.

Unions across Brazil have used the World Cup as leverage to get concessions from authorities and so far, it's often worked. Federal police officers and garbage collectors in Rio de Janeiro were able to win better wages recently.

Unions argue that high inflation is eating away at workers' purchasing power. The government's statistics agency said Friday that the benchmark consumer price index rose 6.37 percent in the 12 months through May.

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