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Eiffel Tower strike enters 2nd day amid financial disputes

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Union flags are pictured at the Eiffel Tower, today, in Paris. Visitors to the Eiffel Tower were turned away for the second consecutive day because of a strike over poor financial management at one of the world’s most-visited sites.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Union flags are pictured at the Eiffel Tower, today, in Paris. Visitors to the Eiffel Tower were turned away for the second consecutive day because of a strike over poor financial management at one of the world’s most-visited sites.

PARIS >> A strike at the Eiffel Tower over poor financial management turned away visitors today for the second consecutive day. The 1,083-foot landmark in central Paris has seen soaring sightseer numbers in the lead-up to the Olympics in the French capital.

Tourists planning to visit the Eiffel Tower were warned on its website that the monument is “currently closed” due to a strike by some of its employees. Visitors were advised to check the website before heading to the monument as visits could be disrupted “due to a renewable strike notice.” Electronic ticket owners were told to check their inboxes beforehand.

Denis Vavassori of the CGT union, which represents a large number of the Eiffel Tower’s employees, said its members voted unanimously to extend the strike today. He said employees were willing to persist until their demands were met but hoped to reach an agreement with the Paris municipality, the monument’s owner, before the start of the Summer Games.

“It would be a shame to continue the strike and its demands during the Olympic Games,” Vavassori told The Associated Press. “For now, it looks like (the strike) could go on for several days, even weeks.”

The operator of the Eiffel Tower did not respond to requests for comment.

Some who traveled to Paris from faraway places came to the monument despite being advised to postpone the visit.

“So it’s closed,” said Guillermo Lopez, a tourist from Argentina. “A trip of thousands of kilometers and for nothing!”

He regained perspective after initial disappointment. “OK, it’s not for nothing. It’s a beautiful city but unfortunately, we cannot see the Tower.”

Matija Antonovic, a tourist from Croatia, said the strike ruined his plan to visit the Eiffel Tower. He decided on the spot to revisit Paris soon. “It’s something to do once in a lifetime. You need to climb this monument.”

Striking employees are demanding an increase in salaries that is proportionate to the incoming revenue from ticket sales. They also want to improve maintenance of the 135-year-old tower that will feature prominently in the July 26-Aug. 11 Paris Games and the following Paralympics.

Union leaders have repeatedly criticized the Eiffel Tower operator’s business model, saying it’s based on an inflated estimate of future visitor numbers, at the expense of maintenance cost expenses and employees’ work compensation.

The Eiffel Tower is typically open 365 days a year. Today’s closure is the second in two months due to strikes. In December, it was closed to visitors for an entire day during Christmas and New Year’s holidays because of a strike over contract negotiations.

Last year, the monument was closed to visitors for 10 days during massive protests across France against the government’s plan to reform the country’s pension system.

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