Friday, April 4, 2014
Workers on strike at Rio site
RIO DE JANEIRO -- More than 2,000 construction workers were off the job Friday in the second day of a strike that has slowed work at the Olympic Park, the main cluster of venues for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
A spokesman for the construction consortium Rio Mais said he was not sure when work would resume.
In a statement, Rio Mais said it expected any lost time to be made up quickly and said the construction timetable would not be affected.
"It's up to the workers," Rio Mais spokesman Gilberto Lima said, adding that 2,300 workers were involved. "Our position is that we have a contract and there is no reason not to work."
Union officials said the strike centered on wages and working conditions.
Rio's Olympic organizers directed inquiries to Rio Mais, but said other work in organizing the games continued.
A team of IOC inspectors visiting Rio two weeks ago, headed by Olympic hurdle champion Nawal El Moutawakel, said the games faced "challenging deadlines."
IOC President Thomas Bach has repeated often that Rio "doesn't have a day to lose," and some fear it could face chronic delays similar to those hitting the upcoming World Cup.
The strike adds to a growing list of problems confronting Rio organizers with the games just over two years away.
Construction on the second largest cluster of venues in northern Rio de Janeiro, in an area called Deodoro, has yet to begin. Work on the Olympic golf course has also been delayed.
Severe water pollution in Rio's Guanabara Bay, the venue for Olympic sailing, is a growing concern with a test event scheduled there in August. IOC officials have said they will not risk the athletes' health if the water is unsafe.
Many of the delays are rooted in disputes among Brazil's three levels of government over who pays for what. Most estimates suggest Brazil will spend about $15 billion on the Olympics, a mix of public and private money.
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