RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Workers renovating Maracana stadium for the 2014 World Cup went on strike Thursday because of unsafe conditions at the work site.
The nearly 2,000 workers also want better wages to ensure the venue is ready for the World Cup and the 2013 Confederations Cup. Maracana is set to host the World Cup final.
Union leader Nilson Duarte said Thursday the work stoppage occurred after a worker received minor injuries at the site on Wednesday. The worker sustained a broken leg after a barrel filled with chemical products exploded near him.
Duarte said workers demand a better health plan and improved working conditions throughout the venue, as well as a higher salary for some of them.
The Maracana is undergoing a complete renovation to accommodate the two football competitions and the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Its roof will be entirely replaced and the rest of the stadium is being completely upgraded.
The workers are expected to meet with employers later Thursday to negotiate their demands. They will decide whether to continue the strike on Friday.
The Maracana had already been renovated for the 2007 Pan American Games but needed a more extensive upgrade to meet the requirements of FIFA and the International Olympic Committee. It is expected to be ready only a few months before the 2013 Confederations Cup and will cost about $590 million, nearly $200 million more than the original estimate.
Workers renovating the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte briefly went on strike earlier this year over better conditions.
The slow pace of stadium construction is one of the main concerns as Brazil prepares for the World Cup, along with the lack of airport infrastructure. Authorities and organizers have guaranteed everything will be ready in time for the event.