April 17, 2014 / 8:24 PM / 5 years ago

Rio workers end strike but issue pay talks warning

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Workers at the main venue for the 2016 Olympics ended a two-week strike on Thursday but a full return to work will only come next week and they will strike again if pay talks prove fruitless, union officials said.

The first of about 2,500 workers returned to Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Park on Thursday morning after contractors agreed to increase the value of the daily lunch vouchers given to each employee.

The union had also sought double pay for overtime and weekend shifts as well as bonus payments for employees with exemplary attendance records. Both sides agreed to keep negotiating on those points.

“The strike is over,” Antonio Figueiredo Souza, president of the local construction workers union, told Reuters. “We believe that the consortium will advance with talks but if they don’t then we will strike again.”

The unions and the building consortium responsible for the job said the stoppage will not compromise delivery dates for the Olympic Park, the site of 16 events in 2016.

However, the strike was another warning to Brazilian organizers who are under pressure from the International Olympic Committee to speed up preparations for the Games, the first to be held in South America.

Rio was chosen as the host city in 2009 but it has been slow to get going. Work has not even started at the second biggest venue, the Deodoro complex where 11 events will be held.

Officials finally announced the tender for the Deodoro complex on Thursday, estimating the cost at about 804 million Brazilian reais ($357.78 million).

The Games’ infrastructure budget was announced earlier this week and came in at 25 percent more than originally envisaged - surpassing that of 2012 Olympic hosts London by almost one billion pounds ($1.68 billion).

The budget of 24.1 billion reais covers 27 projects in urban development and public transport, including eight billion reais for a newly-added fourth metro line for Rio, Brazil’s second largest - and increasingly congested - city.

The cost of the Games is expected to rise further once other costs have been added. ($1 = 2.2472 Brazilian Reals) ($1 = 0.5949 British Pounds)

Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ken Ferris

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