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Last updated at 13:13 GMT, Monday, 10 March 2014

Rubbish in Rio


10 March 2014

Rio de Janeiro authorities and street cleaners say they have reached a new agreement to end an eight-day strike which has left tonnes of rubbish on the streets of the Brazilian city. The strike by street sweepers had led to piles of rubbish and a bad smell on the street during carnival week.


Julia Carneiro

Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro

Rubbish has been piling up in tourist areas like Ipanema and Copacabana beach


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There's something rotten in Rio - and the smell is coming from the huge stacks of rubbish piled up on sidewalks all over the city. Rio's street sweepers chose the carnival holiday to demand better salaries. Their wages start at roughly $400 a month.

There could hardly be a better time for them to prove their importance. The streets were left a mess after hundreds of carnival parades and now, rubbish piles up in both poor and uptown neighbourhoods - and in tourist areas like Ipanema or Copacabana beach.

The president of Rio's rubbish collecting company has even appealed to the population to store rubbish at home whenever possible. He says 30% of the city's sweepers have gone on strike. Some of those who have been working have been threatened by the strike movement so now police has been deployed alongside rubbish collectors to keep them safe as they go about their business.

The strike has divided opinions in Rio. On social media, many support the sweepers' demands for better salaries. Others say they are opportunists and the situation is a big embarrassment to the city.

But Brazil's culture of littering the streets doesn't help. A video that went viral online shows that even authorities have a problem with that. Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes, is seen throwing what seemed to be the rest of an apple on the sidewalk - and now promised to impose himself a fine for his wrongdoing. His government recently created a programme to keep Rio's residents from littering the streets.


Click here to hear the vocabulary



American word for pavements; the part of the street where people walk


show or demonstrate


made a serious or formal request

divided opinions

caused different groups of people to have very different feelings and views about an issue


people who use a situation to get an advantage for themselves, sometimes unfairly


a feeling of shame about something bad that has happened


dropping rubbish everywhere and not putting it in a bin


force something (often, a rule or punishment) on a person or a group of people