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Tourists deprived of the Eiffel Tower due to a renewable strike

Photo: Kiran Ridley Agence France-Presse The closure of the Eiffel Tower on Monday, due to a renewable strike relating to the management of the most famous site in Paris, aroused anger and incomprehension among visitors who came from far and wide for the Iron Lady.

Pierrick Yvon – Agence France-Presse in Paris

February 19, 2024

  • Europe

Unions “worried”, and tourists “devastated”: the closure of the Eiffel Tower on Monday, due to a renewable strike relating to the management of the most famous site in Paris, aroused anger and incomprehension visitors from far and wide for the Iron Lady.

“My dream is shattered. » Sitting on a barrier missing from her queue, Lyra cannot recover from finding the door closed at one of the entrances to the famous monument.

“It’s my birthday today and I really wanted to see the Eiffel Tower,” explains to AFP this little Londoner, of Russian and Ukrainian origin, who is celebrating her tenth birthday this Monday.

“There was not a single message” to warn visitors of the closure, laments her mother, Irina Goncherenko, a children’s book author who was “really annoyed” for what was to be her daughter’s “big day.” …their last day in Paris.

“If we had known that there was a problem with the employees, we would have changed the date,” adds Gabriel Mimica, “surprised” by the social movement when he had “scheduled everything for today.”

Discovering Paris for the first time with his family, this 42-year-old Argentinian still has three days to try his luck, but that would require “giving up another site,” he says.< /p>

Coming from Pau (south-west) for a long weekend, Elie Bou-Khalil and Chama Ghaiti are “disappointed”, especially since they will “soon be over 25”, and so seeing the youth half-fare — 14.70 euros instead of 29.40 to access the summit — escape them.

Along with her boyfriend, Courtney Scott is “devastated.” “We left our baby at home for this romantic getaway and we can't go up,” laments this 30-year-old Irish woman.

“Untenable” model

Thus decided the two monument staff unions, the CGT and FO, in order to “denounce the current management which leads the Eiffel Tower Operating Company (SETE) straight into the worst difficulties”.

The two unions mainly target the Paris town hall, an ultra-majority shareholder, which according to them imposes an “untenable” model on society.

In question, a balance between revenue and expenditure seriously undermined by the COVID-19 crisis, which generated a deficit of around 120 million euros over 2020 and 2021.

To cope, the SETE was indeed recapitalized to the tune of 60 million euros the same year, but “the basic model” which provided for an increase in the fee for the town hall “did not not been changed”, deplores Alexandre Leborgne, CGT representative.

The unions also express their “concern” about the amount of work undertaken in recent years, “an increase of 128 million euros since 2019”.

Despite the sums invested, “numerous points of corrosion are visible, symptoms of a worrying degradation of the 135-year-old monument”, they say, particularly targeting the painting campaign which is ending in sight of the Olympic Games (July 26 to August 11).

This “saw its construction costs soar”, with “100 million euros invested” for “only 3% of the monument stripped”, criticize the unions.

They are calling for the creation of a “special endowment fund” to meet future “colossal expenses”.

Requested by AFP, the management of SETE, which employs nearly 360 employees as part of a public service delegation contract with the town hall, did not respond immediately .

Inaugurated in 1889 for the Paris Universal Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower quickly became a symbol of the capital and of France. In 2023, it received 6.3 million visitors, more than in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In spring 2023, strike movements during the mobilization against pension reform in France led to closure for ten days.

And on December 27, the hundredth anniversary of the death of the creator of the tower, Gustave Eiffel, it was already to denounce the “unrealistic” management that the monument was closed.

For the same reasons, the tower will “probably remain closed all day” on Monday, while negotiations begin, indicates Alexandre Leborgne.

A new general assembly should decide on Tuesday morning whether or not to continue the movement.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116