Staff cuts close museum shops

The Acropolis Museum's restaurant, popular with Athenians and tourists for its good food, service and view, is closing tomorrow as its workers' contracts have expired, it emerged yesterday. Since the museum opened last June, the restaurant has been operated by the Hellenic Culture Organization (HCO), a body that formed part of the Ministry of Culture but is now being dissolved as part of a broader crackdown on public spending. «We won't have any staff tomorrow,» HCO director Constantinos Balafoutas remarked. «How can we keep the restaurant open?» A spokesperson for the HCO workers argued that a law foreseeing the merging of state bodies should only affect the HCO's board of directors, not its work force. «There was no reason to abolish the organization because it operated as a private company and we as its employees,» said the head of the HCO's workers' union, Christos Efstathiou. Another 11 gift shops run by the HCO at ancient sites and museums across the country are to be closed down too.