Eiffel Tower Closed Following Strike
Tourists were turned away from the Eiffel Tower as a strike closed the monument. So far, the strike has lasted two days, with workers fighting a new policy that they say is leading to unacceptably long lines. The new policy assigns separate elevators for visitors who have pre-booked tickets and those who buy tickets on-site. Additionally, management has set aside 50% of daily tickets for customers who book their visit on the internet, up from 30%. Workers at the monument say the new policies have caused problems for both people who buy tickets on-site and those who buy tickets on the internet. Those who buy tickets on-site sometimes have to wait up to three hours in line, while customers who reserved their spots online sometimes wait over an hour. Strikers demand that management give them more leeway in managing lines. Management has argued against the workers’ demands, saying that lines are the same length as they were prior to implementing the new policies.
News of the strike comes at the height of the tourist season in France, the worst possible time for a labor dispute. Last year, 6.2 million people visited the monument. Tourists expressed great displeasure in the site’s closure, with many traveling from across the globe to visit the monument. Many told reporters that they had only heard of the dispute when they tried to visit the Eiffel Tower and that the strike was throwing a wrench in their plans. SETE, the company who owns the Eiffel Tower, has apologized to visitors for the dispute, saying that the closure of the monument reflects negatively on Paris and the country as a whole. Denis Vavassori, a spokesperson for CGT, the union who represents the more than 300 workers employed by the Eiffel Tower, also apologized to visitors, saying that the strike was unavoidable. Vavassori says that the union’s plan is to disregard the type of ticket a visitor has and instead direct tourists to the elevator with shortest wait time. Doing so, Vavassori argues, would ease congestion at the site. Spokespeople for SETE say that negotiations are ongoing, and they may be willing to implement some of the union’s suggestions.
This week’s strike at the Eiffel Tower is the third in recent memory. In 2015, CGT organized a strike to have management create new policies against pickpocketing at the site. In 2016, workers went on strike due to maintenance concerns at the monument.
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