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Greece is to close its Ministry of Culture

11 March 2013 / 19:03:58  GRReporter
2467 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

A note reading, "For sale. For additional information call: Antonis Manitakis, Costas Dzavaras, Lina Mendoni" was put on the plate of the Ministry of Culture in Athens by striking employees early in the morning.

Over 300 people gathered in front of the Ministry to protest against the government's plans to turn it into a general directorate to the Ministry of Education, to close and merge services. According to the employees, budget savings resulting from the changes will be zero, since they will not include the damage that will result from the turning of the Ministry into a general directorate.

They announced a 24-hour strike to protest against "the underrating of the Ministry, which is associated with the main source of state revenue, which is tourism."

The employees read a letter addressing the current Prime Minister and former Culture Minister Antonis Samaras. In it, they urged him to cancel the planned changes "that are hiding the transfer of colleagues to other services and layoffs."
The strikers held a procession to the Prime Minister's Maximou residence but police detachments stopped them. They immediately set off to the Ministry of Administrative Reform, which is located nearby. They met with representatives of the department and then decided to continue their protests because "no alternative solution to the original plan of the commission to assess the structures, which was announced a month ago, has been provided."

The strike began on Friday when all archaeological sites were closed. Today it was renewed, but the Acropolis and Dionysian theatre situated at its foots opened their doors to visitors.

As one of the guards of the Roman Agora explained to GRReporter, the number of staff needed to ensure the security of the sites’ operation had appeared to work, which had enabled them to open the sites to the public.

However, the tourists were not able to see the other archaeological sites in the city centre. "It is a pity that we cannot visit them. We will go elsewhere tomorrow and will not be able to come back here. I think the strikes have become a sort of Greek tradition," said Ivan from Russia who was trying to make a new plan for the day with his girlfriend Evgenia.

Walter from Holland and Ayo from Japan expressed their regret as well. "We are in a country where the temperature at the beginning of March is above 20 degrees. The food is great, the people are welcoming and polite, many of them speak English unlike the people in other European capitals and it is too bad that we do not have the opportunity to experience its culture enough."
Walter said he did not want his words to be taken negatively. "I understand people's problems caused by the policy of cuts. On the other hand, culture and tourism are the two things that can help Greece to emerge from the crisis. Strikes are not the solution. The employees may not understand it, but it's like cutting your fingers. They should not destroy their own work."

He said that they had postponed their visit with Ayo for today because of the strike on Friday. They will leave tomorrow without being able to see all the sights of the era of antiquity.

The owners of cafés and restaurants along Adrianou Street were not satisfied with the strike of the employees of the Ministry of Culture either.

"They are on strike today, ship workers will be on strike tomorrow and someone else - the day after tomorrow. It is still snowing in Northern Europe and the temperature here is 25 degrees. However, there are no visitors. Passengers of cruise ships come for just one day for sightseeing and they do not have the opportunity to do it." According to one of them, their turnover has dropped by 90% over the last two years.

It has just become clear that the members of archaeologists’ companies with temporary contracts will strike on Thursday and they have urged their colleagues in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion and Sparta to organize protest meetings.


Tags: PoliticsMinistry of CultureStrikeArcheological sitesTourism
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