February 27, 2009

Strikes shut down the Acropolis

Posted at 3:16 pm in Acropolis, New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum needs to exist within an operating framework where it is not constantly threatened by the strikes that regularly close many of Greece’s archaeological sites.

Easy Bourse (France)

Protest Shuts Down Athens Acropolis – Culture Ministry
Thursday February 26th, 2009 / 14h38

ATHENS (AFP)–Protesting workers Thursday shut down the Athens Acropolis and planned to keep up their demonstration until the weekend, the culture ministry said.
About 20 axed contract workers blocked the entrance to the monument Thursday morning, ministry spokesman George Mouroutis told AFP.
“The gates were blocked this morning,” Mouroutis said. “The protest is supposed to continue until Saturday.”
About 670 employees whose contracts weren’t renewed by the cash-strapped ministry have gone to court to prevent their dismissal.
Though the ministry isn’t permitted to release them until the case is settled – which could take years – it is also barred by law from paying them, Mouroutis said.
Culture Minister Antonis Samaras is holding talks with the workers to find a solution, he added.

International Herald Tribune

Acropolis workers strike shuts down monument
The Associated Press
Published: February 26, 2009

ATHENS, Greece: Tourists who came to Athens on Thursday to see the Acropolis — one of Europe’s most famous cultural sites — found themselves met at the gate by striking guards explaining why they had shut the place down.

The antiquities sites guards, who are temporary contract workers, are demanding permanent positions and the payment of wages they say are past due. Thursday was the first day of a strike the guards say will last three days, meaning Athens’ signature tourist site will remain closed into the weekend.

“I’m very, very frustrated,” said Paul Jones, a 27-year-old a New Yorker who is studying archaeology in Turkey.

“I’m sure they are getting the short end of the stick,” he said. “But I came a long way only to see half of Athens closed.”

The Acropolis, a flat-topped hill rising 490 feet (150 meters) above sea level in the middle of Athens, holds the ruins of the Parthenon, an ancient temple built between 447 and 432 B.C. in honor of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, from whom the city took its name.

On Thursday, about 30 strikers picketed at the entrance, handing out flyers explaining the closure in Greek, English, French, German and Italian.

In the flyer, the workers accuse the Culture Ministry of failing to live up to its financial obligations, and say they are owed several months’ worth of wages.

“They want to impose temporary forms of work with no benefits and low pay,” said Yannis Nakos, an archaeologist who came to support the guards.

“We’re not happy about closing the Acropolis,” he said. “We respect culture and for this reason we want to work as employees, not as slaves.”

Nobody at the Culture Ministry was immediately available to comment.

Acropolis guards have called strikes in the past. In 2007, they called off a planned four-day strike in late July, the height of the tourist season, after tour operators warned that repeated closures were damaging the country’s travel industry.

TopNews (India)

Acropolis closed as three-day strike starts
Submitted by Mohit Joshi on Thu, 02/26/2009 – 12:37

Athens – Tourists planning to visit the Acropolis will find its ancient doors closed during a three-day strike by workers starting Thursday.

Cultural ministry employees launched the three-day strike, which will block access to the 2,500-year-old site, to demand better working conditions for personnel.

Workers for the archaeological site also want temporatry personal to be given permanent positions.

The strike will not affect operations at other ancient sites and museums around the country.

The Parthenon and other temples atop the Acropolis normally attract thousands of visitors a day. (dpa)

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Friday February 27, 2009
Greece’s image in ruins

The Parthenon is the most important symbol of Greece’s cultural heritage and, for many, one of the most striking architectural monuments in the world.

So, whenever tourists who visit Athens to see the Acropolis find the site shut due to strike action by guards, they get a bitter taste of the multifaceted crisis that is dogging this country.

One aspect of this crisis is that some 70 percent of Culture Ministry staff are, in fact, working on short-term contracts.

The problem has remained unresolved for years, quite simply because each government has done nothing but pass it on to the next one in order to avoid suffering the political cost.

That said, no one should have the right to block access to this ancient monument atop the Sacred Rock – which is certainly one of Europe’s most important cultural sites.

The Acropolis managed to stay open during much more difficult times than the present. It has witnessed war, foreign occupation and even suffered direct assaults.

There is no reason whatsoever why it should remain closed now.

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