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Rio cleaners end strike, clear Carnival debris

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Rio cleaners have swept up more than 18 tons of Carnival trash since ending an eight-day strike at the weekend, authorities said Monday.

Trash had been piled high in the streets after a week of festivities before the cleaners agreed to return to work and 3,000 of them cleared 18,200 tons of debris Saturday night, city officials said.

Officials added a 150-strong group of cleaners from city sanitation agency Comlurb, which cleared 15.5 tons of detritus from around the Sambodrome, home to giant samba parades.

The cleaners returned to work following an agreement awarding them a 37 percent wage hike to a base pay of 1540 reals (US$660) a month, after authorities initially offered raises of nine, then 12 percent.

Rio mayor Eduardo Paes indicated to Globo daily that the agreement would cost the city government some 400 million reals (US$170 million).

“It is a generous offer for a task which deserves to be well paid,” said Paes, who earlier had slammed the strikers as “delinquents.”

“We are all satisfied. We sat down and talked and put our proposition on the table,” said Angelo Ricardo Freitas, representing the cleaners, 300 of whom the city authorities fired, then reinstated owing to the stoppage during the Carnival, which attracted some three million Brazilians and around 900,000 foreign tourists.

Last Thursday saw some cleaners sweeping up under police escort after reports they had been threatened by gun-wielding striking colleagues.

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