Sports

Possible Subway Worker Strike Looms Over Major World Cup City In Brazil

Mass Transit In Sao Paulo Could Come To Halt Prior To Thursday's Opener
A street vendor sells flags to morning rush hour commuters in Sao Paulo on June 11, 2014. Brazil's largest city and cars are decorated with murals and flags as they prepare to host the opening match of the FIFA 2014 World Cup between Brazil and Croatia on June 12th. (Photo: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

A street vendor sells flags to morning rush hour commuters in Sao Paulo on June 11, 2014. Brazil’s largest city and cars are decorated with murals and flags as they prepare to host the opening match of the FIFA 2014 World Cup between Brazil and Croatia on June 12th. (Photo: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

SAO PAULO (CBSNewYork/AP) — Subway workers in Brazil’s biggest city threatened on Wednesday to walk out during the opening day of the World Cup unless union members fired during a strike are rehired.

“We do not accept the dismissals,” said Rogerio Malaquias, a union spokesman. “Either all 42 are rehired or we will strike on Thursday.”

World Cup organizers are counting on the subway system to carry tens of thousands of fans to the Itaquerao stadium, which is far from the hotel areas where most Cup tourists will stay.

EXTRA: Best Places To Watch The World Cup In NYC

On Monday the union suspended its strike for two days, but planned to vote again Wednesday to decide whether to renew it. If it does, the subway system could grind to a halt just as Brazil’s national soccer team faces Croatia in the opening match.

Sao Paulo’s Metropolitan Transportation agency said it has a “Plan B,” but refused to say what that would entail.

“We will only give details if and when the workers go on strike again,” an agency official said, insisting he couldn’t give his name because he wasn’t allowed to speak to the press about the issue.

Subway workers in Rio de Janeiro also had threatened to strike, but their union said workers voted Tuesday not to go on strike.

A Sao Paulo labor court has fined the Sao Paulo union $175,000 for the first four days of the strike and said it would add $220,000 for each additional day the work stoppage continued.

The subway strike was the latest unrest to hit Brazil in the run-up to the World Cup. Teachers remain on strike in Rio and routinely block streets with rallies. Police in several cities have gone on strike, but are back at work now.

There also has been a steady drumbeat of anti-government protests across Brazil blasting spending on the World Cup and demanding improvements in public services. The protests that began last year have diminished in size but not in frequency, and they also have disrupted traffic at times.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)