Eiffel Tower Shut Down Amid Strikes

France’s most famous landmark was shut down in mid-February as workers went on strike over the alleged mismanagement of the world-famous Eiffel Tower. Many visitors said they were disappointed to find the iron structure, located on the Champs de Mars in central Paris, closed to visitors, particularly those who bought pre-paid tickets to travel to the top of the iconic tower.

Local businesses and street traders said the shutdown severely impacted them, as the tower attracts 20,000 visitors daily who keep their businesses afloat. A street vendor who sells miniature models of the landmark told reporters he was set to lose around $400 a day.

The labor dispute centers around the tower’s management and business decisions by Paris City Hall, which owns 99% of the structure. Labor union officials are calling for more pay for tower staff and better maintenance, saying the tower shows signs of rusting. Union representative Denis Vavassori warned that the strike could continue for weeks if concerns are not addressed, but Paris deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire insists that the landmark is “in very good shape.”

The union, which represents 400 workers, also argues that the city’s maintenance of the Eiffel Tower is risking staff safety and placing an unacceptable workload on their shoulders. Staff have to carry out minor improvements on a daily basis, “but we see very clearly that our installations are aging and obsolete,” the union said.

The strikes come as Paris prepares to host the Olympic Games this summer, and estimates suggest this will bring an extra eight million visitors to the city.

One of the most recognizable symbols of Europe, the Eiffel Tower was constructed to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution of 1789. In 1889, city officials launched a competition inviting architects and designers to produce a model for central Paris – a contest won by bridge engineer Gustave Eiffel. It took just two years to complete and opened to the public in 1889.