Bus drivers in Sao Paulo went on strike yesterday, surprising the sprawling Brazilian city by closing 15 of its 18 bus terminals and in some cases abandoning their vehicles in the middle of the street.
The strike is the latest to hit Brazil as it gears up to host the World Cup from 12 June to 13 July – and hold presidential and congressional elections in October.
The striking drivers are rebelling against their union, which agreed to a 10-percent pay increase in negotiations with management, according to newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo. The strikers were demanding 30 percent.
"This was news to me, these holdouts who don't accept the terms of the deal," said a surprised mayor Fernando Haddad. About 300 striking drivers and fare collectors marched to the mayor's office to demand a meeting with Haddad. Other drivers stopped their buses in the middle of the street and asked their passengers to get off, said newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo, a city of 11 million people, will host the opening match of the World Cup in 23 days. Its 15,000 buses are a key part of its transit system.