Museum Strike Closes Louvre,
PARIS -- 05/22/99
The "Mona Lisa" smiled to an empty room today as striking workers kept tourists and art lovers out of many Paris museums and monuments for a fourth day. The Louvre remained closed, as did the Arc de Triomphe and the Pantheon, the resting place of France's greatest minds, union leaders said.
Workers at the popular Orsay Museum, known for its collection of Impressionist paintings, decided to suspend their strike for the holiday weekend marking the Christian commemoration of Pentecost. Employees said they would resume the strike Tuesday.
Museum workers want the Ministry of Culture to hire more people, especially for security, and to end a system of temporary contracts. Unions representing the employees are set to meet Tuesday to decide whether to continue their walkout.
Strikes at museums are not uncommon in France. Louvre employees walked out for six days in December and Orsay workers struck for two weeks in November. However, this is the first time in recent years that so many museums are affected by labor discontent.