World Cup 2014 – Work Ethics? Never Heard Of!

Itaquerão Stadium in São Paulo still faces a number of constrcution irregularities

Itaquerão Stadium in São Paulo still faces a number of construction irregularities

I ended my previous article with the words:
“It’s too early to close the gates of the cemeteries. The construction works of the most expensive World Cup in history are not over yet …”.

It looks like that the gates have to stay open for quite a while.

Remember Stadium Itaquerão in São Paulo, where a crane broke and fell on the stadium structure killing two construction workers, while recently one more deadly accident occurred. That stadium, where the opening match of the World Cup 2014 between Brazil and Croatia has to take place at June 12. That stadium will not be ready in time.

Well, one of the options, which rumours around in Brazil, to meet that problem is the postponement of the opening match. Imagine that! It will be an unprecedented occurrence in the history of the World Cup.

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The issue was addressed by the Secretary-General of FIFA, Jerome Valcke:
“There is no possibility to postpone the opening game”, Valcke said. “We have a schedule to meet until July 13, there can’t be postponements. Perhaps some things may not be quite ready in time for the start of the World Cup, but there is no question of postponement”.

Valcke’s optimism, however, ended there. “I say it again: We’re not ready. If you want me to summarize [the actual position] in one sentence: We are not ready”, he stressed.

The pressure is on the contractors and officially the construction works of Itaquerão should be paralyzed.

As the completion of the stage for the opening ceremony of the World Cup in São Paulo is already four months overdue, the situation could be even worse. According to the head of the auditors and the highest authority of the Ministry of Labour, Luis Antonio Medeiros, under normal circumstances the construction works in the Itaquerão stadium should have been interdicted.

“If this wasn’t a World Cup stadium, the auditors would have made a report for precarious working conditions, paralyzing the work. We are pretending not to see some irregularities”, he said in an interview with the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

March 29, Hamilton Fabio da Cruz, 23, fell from a height of nine meters while placing bleachers and died. He was an employee of WDS Construções, a sub-contractor of Fast Engenharia. But Fast is also a sub-contractor, hired by beer brewer AmBev, which has partnered with the state government for the installation of a temporary stand of bleachers.

“This is precarious work. Let’s not even talk about it, because it will further delay the work. I talked with the minister and he supports me. We are pretending not to see”, he added.

According to Medeiros, after the death of Fabio da Cruz, the MTE inspectors found that workers were working without individual safety equipment.
But the issue that causes more discussion is the need for collective protection for working at extreme heights. A suggestion of the technicians of the ministry was the placing a safety net.

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“It is the norm, it is the law”, said the superintendent. Medeiros says that the safety net is only one option. Fast can provide an alternative. The company, however, only have  manifested itself via note mourning the death of Fabio da Cruz and said to be contributing to the authorities.

The proximity of the deadline for completion of the stadium heightens the fear for more accidents when with the removal of materials and equipment used in the construction starts.

“The period of the dismantling is when many accidents happen. This is really our concern”, confesses Medeiros. Concluding: we can say, that there will be at least 30 days of dangerous working conditions with the potency of more deadly accidents. And, according to the Folha de São Paulo, the Minister of Labour, Manoel Dias, doesn’t even want to address the problem.

And if you think, that fatal deadly accidents are inevitably a part of any large construction work, like ex-football star Pelé declared, let me remind you, that South Africa (2010) only had two deadly accidents and Germany (2006) had zero. Quite a contrast with Brazil.

In the meantime FIFA president Sepp Blatter repeated his criticism with regard to the delays in the completion of the stadiums. He said that the problems were caused by “inactivity of the Brazilians”.

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“With regard to Brazil we currently face delays, but these delays are caused by inactivity of the Brazilians for years, from the very moment they received the organization of this World Cup. We have to emphasize this”, he said.

Blatter also criticized the construction works of the Itaquerão stadium. He criticised the delay in the completion of the stadium, which now will be in May, and criticized the death of another construction worker at the Corinthians Arena on Saturday. In his opinion there are safety breaches of the working conditions.

“In Brazil we have a problem with the stadium in São Paulo. There was an accident with a person who died, but when working with a construction of two or more meters high, you must have the responsibility to provide safety for workers, and they didn’t”, Blatter said, quickly denying FIFA’s responsibility for what happened. “Who is responsible? Is it FIFA? Everyone points to FIFA and that’s not correct. It is a basic condition to give workers the necessary conditions to do the job. We can’t go to each of the works in progress and check”.

Romário as football star and member of Congress

Romário as football star and member of Congress

And the contractors? Deadly accidents? Who cares? They only laugh all the way to the bank, stowing away mountains of public money. A year ago, Romário, the well-known ex-football star and actual a member of Congress, warned for this situation and the factual extortion by the contractors. Everybody laughed and nobody wanted to listen.
Work Ethics isn’t a term you will find in a Brazilian dictionary.

And so we can wait for the next deadly accident. But Brazil will make a grandiose World Cup.

sources: Gazeta Esportiva, iG News, Folha de S. Paulo, O Globo, Veja.