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Acropolis strikes continue

Strikes continue [1] on the Acropolis – an issue that needs to be resolved for the New Acropolis Museum, so that it can start as a reliably functioning entity.

Balkan Travellers [2]

27 February 2009
New Acropolis Museum strikes

Tourists hoping to visit one of Greece’s, and indeed the world’s, most famous cultural sites – the Acropolis, are disappointed for a second day in a row, as access to the site has been shut down by striking Ministry of Culture staff.

Demanding permanent positions and the payment of wages that are past due, the workers began their protest on Thursday, when they blocked the entrance to the monument and handed out flyers in different languages explaining the closure, international media reported. The strike is expected to last for three days.

The Acropolis, rising 150 meters above sea level in the middle of the Greek capital, 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.

The shut down of one of Greece’s most popular tourist attractions comes amid expectations of record losses in the country’s income from tourism, which BalkanTravellers.com reported about recently.

According to international media, Ministry of Culture workers 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. In December, however, as BalkanTravellers.com reported, the Acropolis and the White Tower in Thessaloniki were shut down because of strikes for about a week – a move that coincided with the unrest that swept over the entire country after a15-year-old boy was shot dead.

Earthtimes [3]

Tourists turned away from Acropolis as strike continues
Posted : Tue, 03 Mar 2009 09:47:53 GMT
Author : DPA
Category : Travel (General)

Athens – Tourists trying visit the Acropolis, Greece’s premier cultural site, were again turned away on Tuesday as guards continued a week-long strike. Culture ministry employees launched the strike on February 26, blocking access to the 2,500-year-old site, demanding better working conditions for personnel, of whom nearly 70 per cent are temporary contract workers.

The full affect of the strike had not been felt until Tuesday, as Greece had also been on a three-day public holiday to mark the start of Lent.

The strike has not affected operations at other ancient sites and museums around the country and Acropolis employees will meet later on Tuesday to determine whether or not to continue to their protest.

The Parthenon and other temples atop the Acropolis, a flat-topped hill rising 150 meters above seal level in the heart of Athens, normally attract thousands of visitors a day.

The ancient temple was built between 447 and 432 BC in honour of the goddess of war and wisdom Athena, from whom the Greek capital has taken its name.

International Herald Tribune [4]

Greece: Striking guards shut Acropolis site, again
The Associated Press
Published: March 5, 2009

ATHENS, Greece: Striking Greek Culture Ministry employees blocked access Thursday to the ancient Acropolis — the country’s most popular tourist site — for the fourth day in the past week.

About 30 contract workers picketed the entrance, demanding permanent jobs and payment of months of back wages. The strikers handed out flyers in different languages explaining their position to dozens of frustrated tourists.

“We have the right to go inside,” said Elena Trofimova, a 21-year-old from Moscow who was visiting Greece with her sister, Yulia. They tried in vain to persuade the workers to let them in.

“It’s not our fault,” Trofimova told The Associated Press. “We are leaving tomorrow so we won’t have another chance to see it.”

The Culture Ministry says it is working to meet the strikers’ demands but cannot pay them immediately due to legal complications arising from their employment status.

“It is a shame, and inexcusable … that the Acropolis — our national symbol — should be closed over a procedural issue,” said ministry Secretary-General Theodoros Dravillas.

But strikers promised to persist until their demands are met. “The Acropolis is our only weapon,” said archaeologist Aspasia Rarri. “Closing it has political and financial costs for the government.”

Last week, ministry employees closed the site for three days. They say they will continue their protest later this week, although a public prosecutor warned Thursday that riot police will be called to open the site if the protest continues.

The Acropolis hill, a world heritage site, holds the ruins of several 2,500-year-old temples, including the famed Parthenon. More than a million people visited it last year.

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.

Kathimerini (English Edition) [5]

Friday March 6, 2009
NEWS In Brief
Samaras calls for employees’ closures of Acropolis to end

As protesting Culture Ministry workers blocked access to the Acropolis again yesterday, Minister Antonis Samaras said they were “condemning” the capital’s landmark monument and warned that their protest action was unfair and would work against them. The workers are pressing the government to renew their expired short-term contracts and provide them with some four months in unpaid wages. The protesters, who also prevented tourists from accessing the capital’s landmark monument for three days last week, have threatened to repeat their action next Wednesday. Several hundred ministry employees whose contracts were not renewed have taken legal action.