Armed escort for Rio street cleaners

RIO DE JANEIRO - Local street cleaners in Brazil`s Rio de Janeiro went on strike Thursday, the day after annual Carnival celebrations left the city`s streets littered with trash, despite their main union ending a previous strike.

Over 450 street parties were held across the city during Carnival, some of which attracted crowds of over a million people.

Though a deal was reportedly struck with the street cleaners, splinter groups decided to down brooms and continue industrial action.

On Thursday a group of around 300 "garis" said it would continue with the strike and around 200 protested in the Tijuca area of the city.

Rio mayor Eduardo Paes announced on Thursday that some of the street cleaners would work under armed escort to ensure the big post-Carnival cleanup continued unhindered.

Already fearful of losing their jobs, some of the working garis complained the police presence put them under inordinate pressure.

On Tuesday, the municipal cleaning company, Comlurb, said it would sack 300 garis who had not come to work; the government said these dismissals would be reviewed as part of a deal to end the strike.

Some of the working garis said they had been subjected to attack from the striking factions for coming to work, although strike leader Celio Viana was reported by Agencia Brasil as saying this was untrue and called on police to investigate.

- Carnival `stench`

The main cleaners` union had agreed to a $30 increase in the base monthly salary, but those continuing to strike are seeking a rise of $173, taking the salary (which excludes meal and transport benefits) from $346 to $519.

According to a government website, the minimum salary in Rio state should be $378 per month as of January 2014.

Famous Rio gari Renato “Sorriso” Lourenco, famed for dancing at the Sambadrome while sweeping between samba school performances and for his appearance at the Brazil Olympics handover ceremony at London 2012, was on hand to lend his support to the protesters:

“We`re fighting for our rights. I`m not a dog, I`m a gari. This mobilization is important, but [there should be] no aggression,” he was reported as saying.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency