World

Striking workers close down Eiffel Tower for third day ahead of Paris Olympics

Striking employees are demanding a salary increase proportionate to revenue from ticket sales, as well as repairs to the 135-year-old landmark.

Visitors stand at the closed gates leading to the Eiffel Tower, which has been shut down due to strikes by workers (Michel Euler/AP)
France Eiffel Tower Visitors stand at the closed gates leading to the Eiffel Tower, which has been shut down due to strikes by workers (Michel Euler/AP) (Michel Euler/AP)

Striking workers again closed down the Eiffel Tower – the third day running that the landmark expected to be at the heart of celebrations for the Paris Olympics has been off-limits to visitors.

A message on the tower’s website also warned of more possible disruptions on Thursday, if strikers continue their push for salary hikes and other concessions.

“We apologise for the inconvenience,” the message said on Wednesday.

Unions flags are pictured at the Eiffel Tower during strikes by workers
France Eiffel Tower Unions flags are pictured at the Eiffel Tower during strikes by workers (Michel Euler/AP)

One of the strikers’ representatives, Denis Vavassori of the CGT union, has previously warned that the protest action “could go on for several days, even weeks”.

Striking employees are demanding a salary increase proportionate to revenue from ticket sales.

They also want to improve maintenance of the 135-year-old tower, which is showing traces of rust on some of its ironwork.

The tower earns millions of euros annually for the city of Paris, said its owner, Paris deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire.

Extended closures during the Covid-19 pandemic deprived the landmark of 130 million euros in revenue, he said – but he insisted that tower maintenance has not suffered as a consequence.

The tower will feature prominently in the Paris Games and the following Paralympics from July 26 to August 11.

The Olympic and Paralympic medals in Paris are being embedded with a piece of the Eiffel Tower in the middle.

Union leaders have repeatedly criticised the tower operator’s business model, saying it’s based on an inflated estimate of future visitor numbers, at the expense of maintenance costs and employees’ pay.

The Eiffel Tower is typically open 365 days a year.

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.