Salvador, one of the 12 Brazilian cities set to host matches during next month's 2014 World Cup soccer tourney, awoke Tuesday to a strike by bus drivers demanding pay hikes.

The walkout in the northeastern hub followed strikes that paralyzed Brazil's two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, on various days over the past few weeks.

Just as in Sao Paulo and Rio, the strike in Salvador was led by bus drivers who rejected a union-negotiated contract that would guarantee them a 9 percent wage hike.

The drivers are asking for a 12 percent raise.

Unions representing police and teachers are exploiting the approaching World Cup to apply pressure for higher wages than those originally agreed upon with employers.

The bus strike in Salvador, which is to host much-anticipated World Cup matches such as Spain-Netherlands and Germany-Portugal, left close to 1 million people without transport.

Some strikers parked their buses across important thoroughfares and gave them flat tires, causing huge traffic jams.

Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo bus drivers plan to meet next week to decide on further walkouts and do not rule out striking during the June 12-July 13 World Cup. EFE