Maracana development hit by fresh strike action

19 Feb 2013

Maracana stadium construction workers staged a one-day strike on Monday and promised further action if their demands are not met, creating more pressure for Brazil’s 2014 FIFA World Cup organisers.

The workers are demanding a wage increase, meal vouchers and private health insurance for their families, and have promised full-scale strike action from next week if talks do not prove fruitful. “It was a warning for the construction companies,” Wagner Antunes Siqueira, a director of the Rio de Janeiro heavy industry workers’ union, said according to Reuters. “We are going to wait for negotiations on Friday. If there is no (agreement), we will hold an assembly to vote on an indefinite strike.”

Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana is the lynchpin of Brazil’s staging of the 2014 World Cup and is undergoing a major redevelopment. Originally built for Brazil’s staging of the 1950 World Cup, the Maracana will host seven games in the 2014 edition of the event, more than any other venue. Along with being the focal point of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup, the new Maracana will also play a key role for Rio de Janeiro’s hosting of the 2016 Olympics, staging football during the Games. The US$458 million redevelopment project will see a new stadium formed within the shell of the original epic facility.

However, of more pressing concern to World Cup organisers is the Maracana’s status as a host venue for this year’s Confederations Cup. It was originally due to reopen on December 31, but is now set to stage its first game, a friendly between Brazil and England on June 2, before its first competitive match, the Confederations Cup clash between Mexico and Italy, on June 16. FIFA has twice agreed to push back the handover deadline for four of the six stadiums to be used for the Confederations Cup. A new delivery deadline has been set for April 15 and world football’s governing body last month stressed this will not be further extended. Along with Rio’s Maracana, Salvador, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Recife have been selected as the host cities for the tournament, which will begin on June 15. Only Fortaleza’s Castelao and Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao stadiums have so far re-opened.