Louvre staff strike for Mona Lisa bonus

14th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 14, 2007 (AFP) - Staff at the Louvre museum in Paris were on strike Wednesday demanding a bonus for the physical cost of marshalling tens of thousands of daily visitors past the Mona Lisa and other classics.

PARIS, Feb 14, 2007 (AFP) - Staff at the Louvre museum in Paris were on strike Wednesday demanding a bonus for the physical cost of marshalling tens of thousands of daily visitors past the Mona Lisa and other classics.

Access to the Louvre was made free for visitors after strikers blocked access to ticket desks. Across the river Seine the Orsay museum was shut after attendants there also stopped work.

"The stress is clearly linked to the number of visitors. What's unbearable is the constant hubbub of the crowd, especially in the really popular rooms like the one with the Mona Lisa or the Venus de Milo," said an attendant who asked not to be named.

"On Sundays, when the museum is free, it is even worse. There can be 65,000 visitors on one day. It's unbearable and even sometimes dangerous," he said.

Staff in the hall leading to the Mona Lisa said they spend much of their time reminding the public that -- unlike in the rest of the Louvre -- flash-bulbs there are banned. "Sometimes you just blow your top," one said.

Attendants are demanding a bonus which they say other categories of museum staff have been offered. "After all we have much more stress on the museum floor," one said.

"When the number of visitors gets so large -- we had more than 7.5 million in 2005 and 8.3 million last year -- with no increase in the number of attendants, and when more and more rooms are opened, then our work is reduced to simply managing the flow," said Christelle Guyader of Sud Solidarites union.

Earlier this week strikers posted stickers bearing a picture of a gagged Mona Lisa and the words: "My caretakers have had enough. Give them their due -- 150 euros! (196 dollars)."

Management at the Louvre said that only five percent of the museum's 1,100 attendants are on strike, and that it is "having little effect."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Louvre

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