Day 2 of the bus strikes in Sao Paulo, and a rumor that the police are also going on strike. In light of the bus strikes, officials have suspended the rodizio, in which cars with certain numbers are restricted from driving on designated days. Good luck getting anywhere, however!
Yesterday, bus drivers walked off the job (if they even showed up), with some parking the buses in the intersections in town and walking away with the keys. Without any prior announcement, the bus drivers blocked the terminals with their vehicles late Tuesday afternoon and forced passengers to disembark in the middle of their trips.
The employees are demanding a 30% wage increase and a $5 hike in their meal plan, in addition to health insurance and an increase in their basic benefits. The bus company proposes a 10% increase and a $2 hike, but representatives of the drivers reject the offer, saying, “We are demanding our rights.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands (one est. is 250,000 people) were stranded last night as they tried to get home from work or school. Fifteen of the city’s 28 bus stations were shut down, and thousands of people crowded the remaining stations, jamming into those buses that were running, trying to get closer to home and walk the rest of the way.
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.
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. It took us 45 minutes to get about 6 km last night. All along the way, we saw crowds at the bus stations, or milling on the sidewalks, unable to get home. I understand the drivers’ concerns, but is it really fair to have the people pay the price for their discontent? I guess that’s the way you exert pressure.
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.