`Maracana strike no threat to FIFA deadline`

Updated: Feb 19, 2013, 12:15 PM IST

Rio de Janeiro: Rio de Janeiro`s state government insists that Maracana Stadium remains on target to be ready for FIFA Confederations Cup in June despite a workers strike that threatens further delays to the venue`s USD 450 million revamp.

Construction work was halted Monday as employees demanded higher wages, meal vouchers and private health insurance for their families.

The iconic arena, which is undergoing its first major face-lift since hosting the 1950 World Cup final, was originally scheduled to be ready by December last year. World football`s governing body FIFA has twice granted deadline extensions for the venue`s completion but last month warned the current April 15 cut-off date as final.

"This is a normal conflict between an employer and its employees. They are negotiating several matters. Today the work stopped and I hope that tomorrow they will be back on the site. I think common sense will prevail and that there will be no delay to the working schedule," Rio`s home secretary Regis Fichtner said.

Rio de Janeiro`s heavy industry workers union warned the 24-hour paralysis could be extended if workers` demands were not immediately met.

"This is a warning for the construction consortium. We are going to wait for negotiations on Friday. If there is no agreement, we will hold an assembly to vote on an indefinite strike," union director Wagner Antunes Siqueira said.

The stadium`s project developer Consorcio Maracana Rio 2014 has increased staff in recent weeks and scheduled three round-the-clock shifts as the FIFA deadline approaches.

Of the six venues selected to host Confederations Cup matches, only Fortaleza`s Castelao and Belo Horizonte`s Mineirao are ready.

The Confederations Cup will be held from June 15-30, featuring each of the FIFA`s six continental champions, hosts Brazil and European Championship runners-up Italy.