Greek strikers close Acropolis over Christmas

Hundreds of tourists were barred from visiting the Athens Acropolis on Christmas Eve after the site’s guards called a strike to demand overdue weekend pay.

Visitors had to resort to taking photos of themselves outside the monument’s shuttered gates on Saturday, peering through the bars to get a look at the 5th century BC temple.

“It kind of sucks because this is one of your main sites here … It throws off our whole weekend,» said Anita Amin, 25, a tourist from the United States.

Greece has been hit by a wave of strikes provoked by cuts imposed by its debt-laden government to meet the terms of lifeline bailout deals from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The country’s vital tourism industry has already taken a hit from walkouts by taxi drivers and other key workers.

Guards at many other archaeological sites across Greece went on strike on Saturday, saying they would stay home every weekend until the government hands out the two months of weekend pay it owes them.

“We are working people. We have seen our salaries greatly reduced because of the economic crisis and we can’t keep working without getting paid,» said the president of the guards’ union, Yannis Mavrikopoulos.

The Acropolis is the leading attraction in a tourism industry which accounts for almost a fifth of the country’s ailing economy.

“Considering that tourism is one of the main incomes for the country, I think that they should find another way to express their disappointment with their employers,» said Eduardo Gouveia, 34, a visitor from Brazil. [Reuters]

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