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Brazil

Sao Paulo subway workers suspend strike but threaten World Cup restart

Union members have opted to suspend a strike partially halting Sao Paulo's subway, despite reaching no deal in a pay dispute. Elsewhere, an accident at the construction site for the city's monorail killed a worker.

Subway workers in Sao Paulo suspended their strike on Monday evening, but threatened a restart for Thursday, the first day of the World Cup. After the opening ceremony, Brazil will play Croatia in the city's Arena Corinthians on Thursday evening, a match expected to draw a global audience of more than 1 billion people.

The strike had not completely halted subway services for the roughly 4 million commuters, but had severely disrupted them. A pay dispute was the root cause of the strike; the union is seeking an increase of 12.2 percent, with an 8.7 percent hike currently on the table.

The union's decision to halt the strike followed transport authorities firing 42 employees for "just cause" over actions they had taken in the strike, which had continued after being ruled illegal by a court.

"Whether we put down tools or not will depend on the re-hiring of the 42 workers," union president Altino Melo dos Prazeres said at the workers' debate. "I'm a fan of [star Brazil striker] Neymar and I will root for the [World] Cup. Nobody here wants to mess up the Cup. But we see that there's money for the tournament but not for the workers."

A public protest showing support for the strike was dispersed by riot police using tear gas earlier on Monday after protesters set garbage bags on fire outside a metro station.

The strike's suspension also paved the way for reduced congestion during Tuesday's FIFA Congress - the pre-World Cup gathering of world football officials.

Worker killed at monorail construction site

Also on Monday, an accident at the construction site for Sao Paolo's planned monorail killed a worker. The victim was hit by a large concrete support beam that fell as it was being erected. An investigation was launched into the accident.

The monorail line, linking the airport and the city, was initially due to open in time for the World Cup. Authorities said in 2011, a year after construction began, that the project would not be complete in time. The $1.4 billion (1.03 billion euro) project is currently scheduled for completion next July.

msh/dr (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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