Ludovic Marin Archives Agence France-Presse Built in 1889 for the Paris Universal Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower quickly became a symbol of France and its capital.
Anne Rolandin – Agence France-Presse and Bertille Lagorce – Agence France-Presse in Paris
The Eiffel Tower, symbol of Paris and one of the most visited monuments in the world, was closed to the public on Wednesday during the tourist season following a strike by its employees.
The employees of the Eiffel Tower decided on this one-day strike, organized on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of the engineer Gustave Eiffel, to denounce management of the emblematic monument “which leads straight [his company of exploitation] in the wall”, according to the press release from the CGT union.
“The Eiffel Tower is an old lady. She is 130 years old. Some elevators date from 1899. There are major maintenance, renovation and heritage conservation works” and the cost of these has been “undervalued”, Stéphane Dieu, CGT union delegate, told AFPTV at the Eiffel Tower.
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On the other hand, the striking employees point out in a press release an “overestimation of revenues based on annual attendance targets of 7.4 million visitors”, while these levels have “never been reached”. The inter-union had called a strike for this single day.
The operating company employs nearly 360 employees who ensure the maintenance, operation and animation of the monument as part of a public service delegation contract with the Paris City Hall .
“The Eiffel Tower is doing well economically,” reassured the president of the operating company (SETE), Jean-François Martins.
And this, despite three years of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in work costs, in particular due to inflation and the tightening of regulations on the use of lead, he noted.
This strike movement reflects, according to Mr. Martins, the “impatience” of employees who are demanding proposals from the City of Paris to adjust the economic model of the tower by 2030, but above all their “ “concern” to be designated as an adjustment variable to cushion the losses suffered during the pandemic.
Inaugurated in 1889 for the Paris Universal Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower quickly became a symbol of the capital and of France. Last year, it received nearly 5.9 million visitors, according to figures from the operating company, a record since 2019 and the pandemic.
On Wednesday, however, access to the monument square remained open and free, invaded like every day of the year by tourists fascinated by the “Iron Lady”.
Allessandro Monaco, a 40-year-old Italian, was one of those who would have liked to go up to the top floor and enjoy the panoramic view.
“We were a little stunned to see that there was a strike. It was a hard blow. A big city like Paris, with all these tourists… It’s a real shame not to be able to visit it today,” he told AFPTV.
Others were able to be content with its contemplation, such as Marie-Christine Rivière, a 40-year-old mutual advisor from the south of France: “It’s not a big disappointment. The main thing is that we can see it, whether there is a strike or not.”
The social movement was only planned for one day, the strikers not wanting to “have a lasting impact on visitors during this festive period”.
“But if the situation persists and the City refuses to review its unrealistic management model, the Eiffel Tower will be closed during the period of the Olympic Games (July 26-August 11),” they threatened .
In the spring, strike movements during the mobilization against pension reform forced the Eiffel Tower to close for ten days.