April 2012, Week 4


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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 23 Apr 2012 22:14:19 -0400
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7,000 Workers Strike at Brazil's Amazon Dam Project
Agence France Press, via The Raw Story
April 22, 2012

BRASILIA, Brazil — Some 7,000 workers at a contested 
dam in Brazil's Amazon region went on strike Monday 
demanding better working conditions, the consortium in 
charge of the project said.

The Belo Monte consortium said many workers joined 
the strike because labor unions erected barricades on the 
road leading to the site, located near the town of Altamira 
on the Xingu River in the northern Brazilian state of Para.

The workers are demanding that they get a free air fare and 
a nine-day break to visit their families every three months 
instead of the current six months. They also want a higher 
food allowance.

Work on the $11 billion project that has irked indigenous 
groups, environmentalists and local residents got under 
way last June.

With a capacity of 11,200 megawatts, the hydroelectric dam 
is portrayed by Brazil's government as a key piece of its 
plan to boost national energy production for one of the 
world's fastest-growing emerging economies.

It would be the third biggest dam in the world, after China's 
Three Gorges Dam and the Itaipu Dam on the border between
Brazil and Paraguay.

The dam is expected to flood an area of 500 square 
kilometers (200 square miles) along the Xingu River 
and displace 16,000 people, according to the government, 
although some NGOs put the number at 40,000 displaced locals.

In December, a judge revoked his own order to halt work, 
saying the consortium had shown the dam would not impede 
local fishing or affect the natural flow of the river.

Indigenous groups fear that the dam will harm their way of 
life, while environmentalists have warned that it could lead 
to deforestation, methane emissions and an irreparable 
changes to the Xingu River's ecosystem.

The government had pledged to minimize the environmental 
and social impact of the dam and insisted that no traditional 
indigenous land was to be affected.

But its construction has been the subject of legal wrangling 
for decades.


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