Across Brazil, police have called a 24-hour strike to protest the government’s failure to improve conditions for them. If their needs aren’t met soon, they say they’ll stage a walk out during World Cup, slated for June.
Police staged peaceful demonstrations in several Brazilian cities on Thursday, all of which are scheduled to host matches for the World Cup in just over a month. The protests came as part of a day-long strike aimed at calling attention to poor conditions for the country's police who face the task of providing top-notch security in a country plagued by crime and poor infrastructure.
The strike "has been well supported," federal police union leader Andre Vax de Mello said on Thursday. "We have provided a minimum service for the public, notably at airports, but we are going to stop during the World Cup if the government doesn't provide a satisfactory response."
Protests took place on Thursday in Rio de Janeiro as Brazil's national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari announced his roster. In the capital city Brasilia, demonstrators surrounded police headquarters to prevent colleagues from gaining access to the building. Similar strike action was also reported in Fortaleza, Natal and Porto Alegre.
Police are demanding higher pay, attributing poor working conditions in part to the force's low retention rate. In Brazil, the average monthly income for federal police is between 7,500 and 12,800 reais (3,200-5,800 euros, $4,500-8,100).
"Salaries have been on the slide," de Mello said. "Two hundred and fifty per year leave and take exams to gain entry to other, better-paid public bodies."
The massive investment of funds into preparing the country for the upcoming football event has angered not only police, but also the public, especially as many of the projects have repeatedly missed deadlines.
Rampant crime in Brazil's cities has been in the spotlight in recent months in anticipation of hoards of football fans from all over the world descending upon the country to see the games. Earlier this week, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called for an immediate strengthening of policing around football stadiums following the death of a 26-year-old man in Recife at a second division match.
kms/mz (AP, AFP)