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Transit strike paralyzes several cities in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- A transit strike brought transportation to a halt Friday in several Brazilian cities, as unions demanded better pay and work conditions.

The strike was called by both anti-government Fuerza Sindical ( Literally Union Strength) and pro-government Unified Workers' Central (CUT) unions under the banner of "National Day of Demonstration and Struggle."

The work stoppage, joined by bus drivers, cut off several highways and paralyzed seven state capitals, including Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Sao Luis, Fortaleza, Palmas and Vitoria, and other small cities.

Some striking workers blocked major highways, preventing the flow of traffic to and from several strategic sites, including the country's largest port, Santos, and several large companies.

The unions are demanding a decrease in hours to a 40-hour workweek, changes to a law that currently reduces pensions for those who opt for early retirement, and repeal of a proposed law that would allow companies to hire more outside contractors.

The strike is a continuation of an earlier protest organized by the same unions on July 11.

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