Eiffel Tower Closed For Fifth Day As Strike Extended


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Paris: France's famed Eiffel Tower was closed for a fifth day on Friday as staff maintained a strike over the monument's management, unions said.

The stoppage at one of the world's best-known tourist sites is the second within two months in protest of what unions say is insufficient investment.

The tower's operator, SETE, has advised ticket holders to check its website before showing up, or to postpone their visit.

Ticket holders will be reimbursed, the operator said.

Unions have criticised SETE for basing its business model on what they say is an inflated estimate of future visitor numbers, while underestimating repair and maintenance costs.

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The unions complain that city hall is charging the Eiffel Tower's operator a leasing fee they say is too high, sapping funds for necessary maintenance work.

SETE has said new measures to address these concerns would include hiking the price of tickets by 20 percent.

A ticket now cost 29.40 euros ($31) for an adult wishing to take the lift to the summit. Those who agree to climb the stairs pay a little less.

The operator also said the budget for maintenance works would be more than doubled.

It has also promised to sign a deal on the "employment conditions and salaries" of staff within a fortnight, despite employees having chiefly complained about the tower's management.

Culture Minister Rachida Dati on Thursday also suggested the Eiffel Tower be classified as a "historical monument" to allow the state to help fund works if needed.

"The Eiffel Tower does not have enough protection," she said on X, formerly Twitter.

The Eiffel Tower booked a shortfall of around 120 million euros ($130 million) during the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

Its operator has since received a recapitalisation of 60 million euros, which unions say is insufficient given that major maintenance work is needed, including a fresh paint job.

Visitor numbers at the Eiffel Tower dropped sharply during Covid due to closures and travel restrictions, but recovered to 5.9 million in 2022 and 6.3 million last year.
The masterpiece by architect Gustave Eiffel has been repainted countless times since it was built for the 1889 World Fair.

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