World Cup stadium workers in 18-hour shifts: Union

Manaus: Workers at Brazil`s Arena da Amazonia World Cup stadium, where two laborers died Saturday, are being subjected to 18-hour shifts, a union official said Monday.

The revelations came less than a day after a labour court halted work at the stadium pending a probe into alleged breaches of health and safety standards, reported Xinhua

"We have people starting work at 7 a.m. and leaving at 1 a.m. the next day. This is wrong, it`s a crime," said Cicero Custodio, president of the Sintracomec union.

"They (the organisers) don`t want to know about the health and safety of the workers. They only want to deliver the stadium on time."

Marcleudo de Melo Ferreira, 22, died early Saturday after falling 35m from the stadium`s roof.

Hours later, Jose Nascimento, 49, died of a heart attack at another part of the stadium`s complex.

Family members later said Nascimento had been suffering stress due to a seven-day-a-week work schedule.

Labour court Judge Maria Nely Bezerra de Oliveira revealed that inspectors had reported 114 health and safety infractions at the stadium since construction work began.

Another worker died after falling off scaffolding at the venue in March.

"We have witnessed the repeated non-compliance of work laws," Oliveira said.

"Now with the death of yet another worker, we believe it is time to take action to prevent further tragedy."

Stadium construction firm Andrade Gutierrez could not be immediately reached for comment.

The company previously said it would fully cooperate with authorities investigating the workers` deaths.

Arena da Amazonia, located in the Amazonian city of Manaus in Brazil`s north, will host four World Cup matches next June and July.

It is one of six stadiums yet to be ready for football`s signature event, despite a December deadline imposed by world football`s governing body FIFA.

Saturday incidents take to six the number of worker deaths at Brazil`s World Cup stadiums.

Earlier this month, two died when a crane collapsed at Sao Paulo`s Itaquerao stadium.

And in June last year a 21-year-old labourer plunged 30m to his death at the Estadio Nacional in Brazil`s capital Brasilia.