Strike Closes Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower (search) was closed Wednesday because of a strike by employees, disappointing tourists who had hoped to see Paris from atop its most famous monument.

The strike began Tuesday afternoon, when employees walked off the job in support of a colleague who was issued a disciplinary warning for work-related problems, said Isabelle Esnous, a spokeswoman for the company that runs the tower.

"I really wanted to go up," said Bill Sorrell, a 66-year-old American who had rushed to the monument in a taxi, unaware of the strike. "What a waste," said the Russellville, Ark., resident. "People back home had told me about its fantastic view."

At this time of year, Gustave Eiffel's 1,069-foot monument usually gets 15,000 visitors a day, said Esnous. "For tourists, there's no Eiffel Tower and that's very sad," she said.

Esnous works for the Societe Nouvelle d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, a public-private company that operates and maintains the landmark tower.

Striking employees also were concerned that the tower's 25-year management agreement expires next year, Esnous said. The end of that agreement would not affect workers, so "we have trouble understanding these concerns," she said.

The tower employs about 250 people and, with the exception of administrative staff, most were on strike, Esnous said.

"The only day we are here is now, and now it's closed," complained Daphne Galssem of Holland, seated near a boarded-up entrance to the tower.

But other visitors said no trip to Paris was complete without a strike.

"The last time we came here," said New Yorker Joe Tomcho, "the Louvre was on strike, and we couldn't see that either!"

Canadian tourist Eric Norman, standing at the foot of the tower, said he'd hoped to go up but was looking on the bright side.

To "see it from down here," he said, "is not so bad."