Soldiers and police shot and clubbed to death at least five striking workers at Brazil’s biggest steel mill, plant officials said today.
The army said some strikers were shot to death, but it did not give details.
The confrontation occurred Wednesday night inside the huge, state-owned National Steel Co. plant in Volta Redonda, 80 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro.
According to the plant’s press office, about 3,000 strikers armed with rocks, iron bars and firebombs got together inside the plant and refused to leave.
About 800 soldiers and state police tried to disperse the strikers and were pelted with stones and firebombs, the office said. The troops responded with tear gas, clubs and gunfire, it said.
Earlier, the mill’s press spokeswoman said eight strikers were killed in the violence. There was no explanation for the discrepancy.
Troops occupied the plant Tuesday night after 18,000 steelworkers went on strike for higher pay and shorter working hours. The soldiers kept the blast furnaces running, and tanks were stationed in front of the gates to maintain order.
The strikers were demanding a reduction of their work shift from eight to six hours, restoration of a suspended 26% cost-of-living adjustment retroactive to July, 1987, and additional inflation adjustments that were suspended this year.