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Eiffel Tower Re-Opens After Labor Unions Forced It To Close

REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

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Ted Goodman Reporter
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The Eiffel Tower re-opened Sunday, after a strike by union workers forced the iconic landmark to close for five days.

The company that manages the tower, the “Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel” (SETE), said it had reached an agreement with workers and their union, leading to the re-opening of France’s most recognizable landmark.

Management and the nearly 300 workers who tend to the structure were locked in a bitter dispute over wages and work conditions, specifically complaining about an upcoming paint job, which workers assert poses a substantial health risk. (RELATED: French Labor Union Strike Forces Eiffel Tower To Close)

The workers, represented by the General Confederation of Labour, initially demanded 51 “items of change,” which was rejected by SETE and led to the closure. The union, with over 710,000 members, carries significant clout in a country with a history of labor unrest.

The union and management signed a memorandum of understanding, without disclosing specifics of the agreement, according to France24. The average annual salary for the tower’s workers is $65,000 a year, according to the company.

The five-day closure dealt another blow to the city’s struggling tourism industry. Not only did the shutdown lead to a rat infestation because workers didn’t tend to the park, but the city is already combating terrorism fears, floods, overall labor unrest and an ongoing refugee crisis. The plethora of issues has stifled tourism to the “City of Lights,” and the extended strike during the Christmas season only served as an additional deterrent to potential travelers.

The number of visitors to the landmark declined from 7 million in 2015 to about 6 million this year, according to tower management. The tower predicts a 14 percent drop in revenue for 2016 from 2015.

During the Christmas season, as many as 20,000 people a day ascend the tower. With tickets to the top of the Eiffel Tower (via elevator) going for approximately $17, the strike cost the Eiffel Tower almost $340,000 a day. The figure doesn’t include lost revenue from surrounding businesses due to deterred tourists.

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