Latin America & Caribbean

Fresh deal to end Rio rubbish collection strike

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Media captionOn Friday, piles of rubbish could still be seen on Rio streets

Rio de Janeiro authorities and street cleaners say they have reached a new agreement to end an eight-day strike which has left tonnes of rubbish on the streets of the Brazilian city.

The rubbish collectors have reportedly accepted a pay rise of 37% after an earlier deal was rejected by some of the workers.

Earlier, dozens of cleaners staged a protest outside the mayor's office.

The strike had been timed to coincide with the start of Carnival festivities.

Authorities, strikers and representatives of the union reportedly took part in Saturday's meeting in Rio.

The new agreement will take the collectors' starting salary to 1,100 reais ($470; £280) a month.

At the start of the week, municipal authorities said they had sealed a deal with leaders of the 15,000 rubbish collectors after offering a salary increase of 9%.

But a group of street cleaners – whose starting monthly salary is 803 reais – wanted 1,200 reais plus other benefits.

'Treated like rubbish'

On Friday, hundreds of refuse workers stopped traffic in central Rio, despite threats from authorities to sack collectors who did not show up to work.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rio's famous Ipanema beach remained cluttered with litter for days
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption On Thursday and Friday, some groups of street cleaners went back to work
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The rubbish collectors timed their strike to coincide with this year's Carnival festivities

The strikers said that more than half of collectors were continuing the industrial action and had vowed to stage fresh demonstrations over the weekend.

They said they were being "being treated like rubbish" and even threatened to cause further disruptions during the football World Cup finals, due to start on 12 June.

"The mayor wants to hold the World Cup, bin men want to go shopping," read some of their banners.

The street cleaners' union said the strikers were a minority.

Tonnes of rubbish had been left after Carnival parties on the streets.

The president of Rio's rubbish collecting company, Comlurb, had appealed to people to store rubbish at home whenever possible, the BBC's Julia Carneiro reports from Rio.

Some workers had already started to clean up the rubbish left in some parts of Rio by this year's Carnival festivities, which ended on Wednesday.

They were escorted by security officers to protect the workers from striking colleagues, authorities said.

Our correspondent says the local culture of littering had made the situation worse.

Even Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes, was caught on video throwing rubbish.

Mr Paes said he did not remember the event, but asked the authorities to fine him to serve as an example.

Last year, his government announced a "zero tolerance" policy towards street littering.

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