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Strike at Eiffel Tower

Strike at Eiffel Tower

In what could be termed the first ever of its kind, the Eiffel Tower was closed to the general public and tourists by its employees who went on strike in the afternoon of 12th October.

 

The strike by the employees of the Eiffel Tower was in response to a nationwide call by the socialist movement to protest the law that will increase the 'legal' minimum age of retirement from 60 to 62.It may be noted that this reform which is going through the parliament at the moment and is likely to be passed will set the condition that a person can 'legally' retire at the age of 62 (compared to the previous 60) will the benefit of full pension provided he/ she has worked for a minimum of 40 years. The 'unconditional' retirement age is at 65 which will, as per the reform, be advanced to 67.

 

As per a report in the Economics Times, more than 3.5 million people from the public service sector- SNCF, buses, higher secondary schools, hospitals, post offices etc.- took to the street for protesting against the pension reforms. At the Eiffel Tower, the cash counters were closed from noon onwards and the tourists that were already at the Tower came out around 01:30 PM. The Eiffel Tower has been a scene of social protests earlier and has been closed before but not entirely as in this time. As per the workers union, more than 90% of its 300 employees were on strike. As per a statement issued by the management of the Eiffel Tower « We closed the access to the Eiffel Tower since we didn not have enough qualified persons (because of the strike) to assure the smooth functioning and safety of the tourists ». says a report in the daily Le Parisien. The Tower is expected to be open to public from 13th October from 09:30 AM onwards.

 

Public opinion on the reform may not be as caustic or severe as the strike itself. Given that the average life span has increased and people are living well into their 80s, it puts a lot of pressure on the social security system to support the pensioners for more than 20 years (after their retirement) especially with issues of regular and free health check-ups and vaccinations etc. for the senior citizens. An early retirement age also means a change in the demographic (of active working population) and economic scenario vis-a-vis other European countries making this reform somewhat 'acceptable' and inevitable.