Acropolis caught up in jobs row

Hundreds of disappointed tourists were turned away yesterday from the Acropolis, which was closed by a small group of protesting Culture Ministry contract workers who are threatening to continue the demonstrations for the rest of the month. The civil servants blocked access to the ancient citadel from 6.30 a.m. in a bid to draw attention to a number of grievances they have with the government. They were demanding long-term employment, the immediate payment of up to 22 months of outstanding wages, an end to the law restricting short-term hirings to just 24 months of employment and the employment of all applicants for positions at the Culture Ministry who had passed the civil service tests, also known as ASEP. The contracts of dozens of ministry employees on short-term agreements are due to run out at the end of the month and the government, fighting to keep down public spending, has not given any indication that they will be renewed. The workers argue that there are plenty of employment opportunities within the culture sector. «The ministry has 4,000 empty places within its broader structure,» said Nikos Hasomeris, the head of the union representing the Culture Ministry’s temporary staff. The protesters handed out leaflets in English to tourists to explain why they were taking the action. Some visitors expressed sympathy with the workers over the fact that they had not been paid for almost two years. The ministry employees said that they intend to continue the protests daily until the end of the month and that they might try to block access to other sites as well.

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