December 17, 2008

Closure of the Acropolis due to strikes

Posted at 1:51 pm in Acropolis, New Acropolis Museum

This is not the first time that strikes have caused the closure of Greek archaeological sites such as the Acropolis. It does however in some news sources seem to have been caught up into the (entirely separate stories) of riots in the city. The site has now re-opened. If anything, such strikes serve to re-enforce the need for the New Acropolis Museum to operate in a new way to that currently used for Greece’s other state run institutions, to try & allow it to run more smoothly.

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Friday December 12, 2008 – Archive
Sacred Rock shut due to temporal demands

The ancient site of the Acropolis and the Parthenon remained closed to visitors for the third consecutive day yesterday as Culture Ministry staff continued their strike over pay and benefits.

Protesting workers are complaining that a 150-euro bonus reportedly promised to them by Minister Michalis Liapis has not been included in the government’s budget for next year.

Liapis, for his part, has made no official statement regarding the strike nor explained why the Acropolis remains closed to the public. Meanwhile tourist agencies are said to have received countless complaints from visitors whose plans to visit the Acropolis have been thwarted.

The development comes just a few days before the scheduled removal of the scaffolding on the Propylaea, the monumental gateway to the Acropolis.

Travel Daily News

Reply to eturbo news’ article
Athens is peaceful and the Acropolis was never in any danger
Monday, December 15, 2008

In reply to eturbo news’ article entitled “Acropolis: Rioters’ new target”, Travel Daily News feels an explanation of the real situation is in order. This misunderstanding among journalists shows how delicate the situation is. It is very difficult indeed for people to grasp how the cradle of civilization and democracy – and one of the major European destinations – can be left open to such acts of vandalism and destruction without the government taking drastic measures to contain acts which cause feelings of insecurity to foreign visitors, especially at a time of dire economic situation.

Regarding the situation with the Acropolis, in my interview to Hazel Heyer, I explained that the staff of the Acropolis are striking this Monday, so the monument will be closed for this one day. This move has nothing to do with the riots, the staff are simply asking for more money. Actually, the decision to strike was taken by the Federation of the Ministry of Culture Employees almost 10 days ago. During their meeting, they decided to keep the Acropolis of Athens and the White Tower of Thessaloniki closed today. The headquarters of the Ministry of Culture and the services of the Fund of Archaeological sites are also closed.

As a result of this labour action and the destruction of many shops during the past few days, tourists in Athens can neither visit the Acropolis, nor go shopping, which makes them unhappy.
Vicky Karantzavelou – Monday, December 15, 2008

Straits Times (Singapore)

Dec 16, 2008
Acropolis strike ends

ATHENS, Dec 16, 2008 (AFP) – Greece’s top tourist attraction, the Athens Acropolis, reopened its doors Tuesday after the country’s troubled government caved in to striking workers’ pay demands, a staff union source said.

‘We have decided to suspend our movement because the government is going to satisfy our principal demand, which is the payment of a monthly bonus of 130 euros (S$261),’ union vice-president Georges Alvanos told AFP.

The union’s 9,000 members – from archaeologists to civil servants – had closed one of the wonders of the ancient world along with other historic attractions including the cradle of the Olympics in the southern Pelopponesian, as well as ministry services and offices.

Although technically unrelated, the protest ran concurrent to and fed off widespread anti-government unrest following rioting in the capital.

According to Alvanos, the government has not paid this monthly benefit since the beginning of 2008. ‘A law safeguarding this bonus will soon be voted on by parliament, they assure us,’ the official added.

The iconic Athens temple, an architectural marvel dating from the 5th century BC, draws around a million visitors every year.

Greek tourism leaders said on Monday that the closure was more damaging to their industry than violence on the streets of Athens – with the global economic downturn posing the greatest threat for sales of summer packages.

In a move unrelated to the recent unrest, culture ministry staff had blocked visitors for the past 10 days amid demands for increased pay.

‘I doubt I’ll ever come back to your country,’ a young American tourist told Skai TV.

Student leaders, meanwhile, will formalise campaign plans later on Tuesday at the Athens Polytechnic as they pursue an 11th day of protests against Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’ right-wing administration.

Demonstrations triggered by the police killing of a teenager are already scheduled for the rest of the week, and organisers now say 600 schools and universities across Greece are under student occupation.

While the education ministry says about 100 remain in the grip of student revolt, leaders – who say they are backed by senior university management – are to release manifestos aimed at cementing a winter of anti-state action.

In Thessaloniki, protesters are also set to gather outside a city court, where judgment in the case of eight police officers accused of severely beating a student during a demonstration two years ago is due.

Overnight on Monday, three central Athens banks were struck in gas canister attacks, police said. — AFP

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