Sao Paulo metro strike to continue Monday despite court ruling
admin • June 10, 2014 • 2311
A soccer fan holds a Brazilian flag in front of two policemen outside Ana Rosa subway station during the fifth day of metro worker’s protest in Sao Paulo June 9, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/KAI PFAFFENBACH
(Reuters) – Sao Paulo’s metro workers voted to stay off work for a fifth day on Monday even after a court declared the strike illegal, complicating preparations for the World Cup opening match.
Another vote on the strike was scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m. local time (1600 GMT), after a rally in downtown Sao Paulo in which they will be joined by homeless’ workers and other social movements.
“The (metro workers’) union sent an official request to President Dilma Rousseff asking her to help the category reopen talks with the (Sao Paulo) state government,” which controls the subway system, the union said in a note on Sunday.
A court on Sunday set a 500,000 reais penalty ($223,000) for each day they stay off work from Monday. It also declared the strike illegal, paving the way for state-owned Companhia do Metropolitano de Sao Paulo to lay off striking workers.
Metro workers’ demand a 12 percent pay rise, but Metro has offered 8.7 percent.
With major subway lines closed since Thursday, commuting in Brazil’s largest city has been chaotic.
The strike snagged several FIFA officials in over two hours of traffic as they arrived for a conference ahead of the World Cup last week, which kicks off with a Brazil v Croatia match in Sao Paulo on Thursday.
On Friday, police used tear gas to break up a demonstration blocking access to one metro station. [ID:nL1N0ON0UG]
Frustration with broken promises and the ballooning cost of new World Cup stadiums contributed to widespread protests that drew over a million Brazilians into the streets during a warm-up tournament last year. This year, the largest demonstrations so far have been from homeless groups and striking workers using the backdrop of the World Cup to press their causes.
President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday (July 3) vetoed parts of a law that would have made wearing a face mask obligatory in enclosed spaces where large groups gather, as swathes of Brazil struggle to tame new infections of the coronavirus.
“Today there were various vetoes for legislation that spoke of the obligatory use of face masks, including inside the home. I vetoed (them). No one is going to enter a home and give a fine. I could also have got a fine because I am now without a mask,” he said.
Bolsonaro has regularly flouted social distancing guidelines advised by most health experts, shaking hands and embracing supporters. He has said publicly that his past as an athlete makes him immune to the worst symptoms of the virus.
He has also been widely criticised by health experts for downplaying the severity of the virus which he has dismissed as just “a little flu.” Bolsonaro has pressured governors and mayors for months to reverse lockdown measures and reopen the economy.
Bolsonaro’s veto comes as Brazil nears 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday. The virus continues to ravage Latin America’s largest country even as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.
Brazil has the world’s second largest outbreak after the United States and the virus has killed over 60,000 people in the country.
In Rio alone, more than 6,600 people have died of COVID-19 in the past four months. Only 14 countries in the world have a death toll higher than the city. Intensive care units in public hospitals are at 70% capacity.
Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest and worst-hit city, is expected to open bars and restaurants next week. (Reuters)
(Production: Sergio Queiroz, Leonardo Benassatto, Pablo Garcia, Leandra Camera, Paul Vieira)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday (July 7) he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, adding in a television interview that he was in good health despite running a fever.
The right-wing populist, who has played down the severity of the virus which he has called a “little flu,” took the test on Monday after developing symptoms.
In the interview broadcast on state-run TV Brasil, Bolsonaro said he began feeling ill on Sunday (July 5) and has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug with unproven effectiveness against COVID-19.
“It started on Sunday (July 5) with a certain feeling of unwell that worsened during the day on Monday (July 6), with malaise, tiredness, a bit of muscle pain and a fever that reached 38 degrees in the late afternoon. I then thought that with these symptoms, and with the presidency’s medic (believing it to be) a possible COVID-19 infection, I did a CT scan at the armed forces hospital here in Brasilia. And the lungs were clear,” Bolsonaro said.
Brazil has the world’s second-largest outbreak behind the United States. Latin America’s largest country has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 COVID-19 deaths.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June. Bolsonaro has also railed against social distancing rules supported by the World Health Organization.
Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with U.S. Ambassador Todd Chapman during July 4 celebrations. Pictures showed neither wearing a mask.
The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia said via Twitter on Monday (July 6) that the ambassador had lunch on July 4 with Bolsonaro, five ministers and the president’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro. The ambassador had no symptoms, but would undergo testing and is “taking precautions,” the embassy said. (REUTERS)
Brazil on Sunday reported 30,476 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the national count to 1,344,143, as the coronavirus epidemic continues to rage across the country.
In the last 24 hours, 552 daily deaths from COVID-19 were reported, raising the death toll to 57,622, the Brazilian Health Ministry said in its daily report.
Of those infected, 733,848 have recovered from the virus, the ministry added.
The country’s most populous state of Sao Paulo has been the most heavily affected by the disease, with 271,737 cases and 14,338 deaths, followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 111,298 cases and 9,819 deaths.
After confirming its first COVID-19 case on Feb. 26, Brazil now has the second-highest number of cases and the second-highest death toll in the world after the United States.
Local experts said that while the total number of confirmed cases in Brazil is still lower than the U.S., the severity and economic toll that the pandemic is taking on the country is believed to exceed that of the United States.
Though Brazil’s population of 200 million is less than two-thirds of that of the U.S., the South American country is now seeing more than twice as many new confirmed cases per million people a day as there are in the U.S.
The Brazilian economy has been severely impacted by the pandemic, with the International Monetary Fund’s growth forecast for Brazil this year falling from -5.3 percent to -9.1 percent.
Despite the rising case numbers, Rio de Janeiro on Saturday reopened stores, hairdressing shops and beauty saloons after more than 100 days of shutdown, as the country looks to revive its economy. (Reuters)
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