Rio de Janeiro Airport Workers Suspend Strike Before Cup

Rio de Janeiro airport workers suspended a strike today after a court ordered them to return to work.

The strike didn’t result in canceled or delayed flights, according to the press offices of government-run airport management company Infraero and the Brazilian airline association, ABEAR. Seventy percent of airline workers such as check-in and airplane maintenance employees remained on the job along with 80 percent of baggage handlers, the airlines’ union said yesterday.

A court in Rio said it would fine the labor union 500,000 reais ($223,900) per hour should the strike continue, the ANAC civil aviation agency said in a statement today. The union responded by suspending the work stoppage, spokesperson Andrea Luis de Carvalho said by phone. The strike, which started yesterday, was designed to put pressure on employers to raise wages and pay a bonus for working during the monthlong soccer World Cup.

The walkout came three days before Rio hosts its first match in the tournament and was the latest challenge for organizers of the games. Sponsors including Itau Unibanco Holding SA as well as former Brazilian national team player Ronaldo said in the past month the country botched preparations to host the tournament after it missed deadlines to finish stadiums and left transportation projects unfinished.

Contingency Plans

Some passengers missed flights as a result of this morning’s strike as workers blocked traffic to the international airport, radio station CBN reported. Airlines have contingency plans to reduce delays during the World Cup, ANAC wrote in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday.

Rio is expected to attract about 554,000 visitors during the World Cup, including 90,000 from abroad, according to Brazil’s Tourism Ministry. The seaside city will host the final match July 13.

Airport workers are among other labor groups that have staged work stoppages in the run-up to the World Cup, which starts at a time when several industries typically renegotiate wages. Workers at federal museums across the country remain on strike, as do teachers in Rio.

Protesters and police faced off today in Sao Paulo, which will host the World Cup’s opening game this afternoon.

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