Another worker dies in Brazil’s World Cup preparations

18 December 2013

Preparations for the World Cup in Brazil has suffered another setback as the death of construction worker has led a judge to stop work at a stadium in the Amazonian city of Manaus.

It follows the death of two workers on 27 November when a crane collapsed at the Itaquerão stadium in São Paulo.

In a statement, the public prosecutors’ office said: "The labour court responded to a request . . . to immediately suspend all parts of the Arena da Amazônia project involving work at altitude until it is proven through a detailed inspection that the minimum [regulatory] requirements are being met."

The death is the second at the Amazônia stadium involving a fall from height, bringing the total death toll there to three.

This is despite numerous inspections and the discovery of violations of labour regulations, including for those working at height.

The construction company in charge of the project, Andrade Gutierrez, declined to comment on the court order but said the second death took place in an area of the project that was not its responsibility.

A construction workers’ union has slammed safety conditions at World Cup venues and called for a nationwide strike.

The Arena Amazônia stadium, where construction has been stopped by a judge following the death of a worker (Wikimedia Commons)

"A general strike would be ideal, to show the reality that nobody wants to see," Amazonia Construction Union president, Cicero Custodio, is reported as saying.

"The government only shows the pretty part of the works and forgets who’s there making them happen. This Monday we will be there, demanding our rights as workers and exposing this reality."

A strike has already occurred over salary owing for November at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, scheduled to host four World Cup matches, and the local workers’ union said it was considering calling for a separate strike on Monday to protest about working conditions.

The delays mean that at least three cities hosting the World Cup are expected to miss a December deadline for completing preparations on their stadiums.

A Brazilian academic told the Financial Times: "What the world is seeing is the way building is done in Brazil."

Rafael Alcadipani, an academic at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, said Brazilian builders used less prefabricated construction, which slowed down projects, while deadlines were often allowed to drift, which permitted companies to demand more money out of authorities desperate to complete venues in time for certain events.

"Probably for the World Cup, the stadiums will be ready but it will only be days before in some cases," he said.

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