Eiffel Tower closed as staff go on strike

December 28, 2023 | 14:35
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The Eiffel Tower, one of the world's top tourist attractions, was closed Wednesday after staff went on strike, the landmark's operator said.
Eiffel Tower closed as staff go on strike
Eiffel Tower closed as staff go on strike, illustration photo/ Source: freepik.com

The one-day stoppage on the 100th anniversary of the death of engineer Gustave Eiffel, who built the tower, was to protest against "the current way it is managed", the hard-left CGT union said in a statement.

The tower's operator SETE was "headed for disaster", it said.

The CGT said management was running the Eiffel Tower according to a business model that was "too ambitious and unsustainable" and that it said was based on an inflated estimate of future visitor numbers, while under-estimating construction costs.

SETE apologised to visitors, advising anyone with electronic tickets for Wednesday "to check their email" for more information on their booking.

The Eiffel Tower -- Paris's most famous landmark -- attracts nearly seven million visitors a year, around three-quarters of them foreigners, according to its website.

During the Covid pandemic numbers dropped sharply due to closures and travel restrictions, but recovered to 5.9 million in 2022.

The CGT said the tower's management was basing its future budget on 7.4 million annual visitors, although "this level has never been reached".

Stephane Dieu, a CGT union rep at the Eiffel Tower, told AFP that the monument was not sufficiently funded to pay for "very large maintenance work" that was needed.

"The Eiffel Tower is old, it's an old lady of 130 years," he said. "We have lifts here that were built in 1899."

Unless a financial deal could be made with the city of Paris, "we will run out of cash in 2025, despite our visitor numbers".

Some visitors who had hoped to go up the 1,083-feet structure expressed their frustration when they were turned away.

"We came here this morning to visit this magnificent Eiffel Tower," said Alessandro Monaco, 40, an Italian tourist.

"We were gobsmacked to see that there was a strike, that was a bit tough. It's a real pity," he said.

But Marie-Christine Riviere, a French health insurance consultant, said she was not too disappointed at being unable to climb up.

"The important thing is to see the Eiffel Tower, strike or no strike," she told AFP.

Eiffel died on December 27, 1923, at the age of 91.

While he will always be remembered mostly for his eponymous tower, he designed hundreds of other landmarks around the globe.

He created his reputation as a builder of railway bridges, but also used his metal wizardry to build the Pest railway station in Hungary, lighthouses in Finland and Madagascar, the structure of the Saigon Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City and the iron framework of the Statue of Liberty in New York.


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