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Brazil: Rio police launch strike ahead of Carnival

Police and firefighters in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro went on strike today to demand better pay, one week ahead of the seaside city's Carnival extravaganza.

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Revelers at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 8, 2011. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)

Police and firefighters in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro went on strike today to demand better pay, one week ahead of the seaside city's Carnival extravaganza, the Associated Press reported.

The work stoppage, approved at a rally on Thursday night, comes after the state parliament approved a staggered 39 percent pay rise.

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Authorities had been looking to avoid the strike action, which has raised fears for the security of Carnival, which attracts an estimated 6 million people each year.

Instead of police, thousands of soldiers will be deployed on the streets of Rio for the event, which begins on February 17, the AP reported.

Brazil's unions rejected the state's pay increase - which was to be introduced incrementally throughout this year and next - saying it did not make up for decades of falling wages, the BBC reported.

Military police officer Tiago Rodrigues, who was at Thursday's rally, said Brazilians should stay at home during the strike:

"Unfortunately, the population will now be caught up in this during carnival ... We are advising people not to leave their homes. Stay indoors until the situation is calmer."

In Rio state, a police officer's starting salary is $964 per month, which is less than other states in the country, the AP reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/brazil/120210/police-strike-pay-brazil-rio-carnival