Eiffel Tower shut by strike

15th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 15 (AFP) - A strike by workers at the Eiffel Tower in Paris kept the iconic monument closed to tourists for the second day in a row Wednesday because of worries over job security, management and employees said.

PARIS, Sept 15 (AFP) - A strike by workers at the Eiffel Tower in Paris kept the iconic monument closed to tourists for the second day in a row Wednesday because of worries over job security, management and employees said.  

The employees, who walked off the job at 3:00 pm Tuesday, are concerned about the expiration in 2005 of a concession agreement between SNTE, the company which runs the tower, and the city of Paris, which owns the property and the structure.  

Workers have asked for a meeting with SNTE president Jean-Bernard Bros, who is also the French capital's deputy mayor in charge of tourism.  

"There is no basis for this conflict," Bros said, explaining that he believed the strike started because one employee received a warning over his job.  

"The law totally protects the tower's employees," he said.  

Bross added that he was willing to meet employees on condition they first resumed work.  

The SNTE (Societe Nouvelle d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel) employs 250 people, and another 250 work in the monument's gift shops and restaurants.    Some 15,000 people visit the 324-metre (1,070-foot) tower every day.  

The last strike at the monument dates back to 1998, when workers aired grievances about the 35-hour work week, management said.  

Several tourists expressed anger at the closure.   "We made the trip for my daughter who was really looking forward to going to the top of the Eiffel Tower," Pablo Rodriguez from Spain said at the foot of the structure.  

"I am very sad," a young Japanese woman who gave her name as Atsuko said.   Under illuminated signs declaring the tower closed, some tourists pestered security guards in vain to ask them when it might reopen.  

One of the world's most recognisable landmarks, the Eiffel Tower attracts six million visitors every year, the majority of them foreign tourists, generating EUR 44 million in ticket sales of which the city gets nearly EUR 6 million.  

It welcomed its 210 millionth visitor last year.   Known as the Iron Lady, the metal structure was designed by engineer Gustave Eiffel and built in 1889 as a temporary exhibit for the World Fair, but its success - and its usefulness as a telegraph relay - turned it into a permanent feature of the skyline.  

French radio has been using it to transmit broadcasts since 1918, and French television added its equipment to the top in 1957.  

The tower held the record as the world's highest building until 1929, when it was eclipsed by New York City's Chrysler Building.  

At this time of year, the tower is usually open to tourists to 1:00 am. Adult entry fees vary depending how many of the three levels are visited, with access the top level costing EUR 10.20 (USD 11.60).  

By night, a pair of rotating spotlights beam out from the top of the tower, visible from 80 kilometres (50 miles) outside the capital. After 9:00 pm, 20,000 twinkling bulbs switch on for 10 minutes every hour until 2:00 am.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

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