SAO PAULO, June 9 (UPI) -- With the World Cup mere days away, Brazilian metro workers have gone on strike in one of the world's most congested cities, demanding a pay raise.
Tensions flared Monday in Sao Paulo as the metro strike entered its fifth day. Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of 300 demonstrators who had assembled around Ana Rosa station in central Sao Paulo.
The metro workers are seeking a 12.2 percent salary increase in response to the government's $15 billion expenditure on the soccer tournament. The expense has been drawn primarily from public funds, prompting anti-World Cup demonstrations. Protesters criticize the government for investing billions of dollars into a sporting event when the money should be put toward social projects, including housing and salary increases for public servants.
The government is attempting to force metro employees back to work by court order and threat of job loss. A metro spokesman said that as of Monday, 60 pink slips had been issued to staff reportedly involved in the strike.
On Sunday, metro union members voted to continue the strike indefinitely, despite the government's threats.
Continued disruption of the metro rail could impact Thursday's opening World Cup match between Brazil and Croatia.