Athens, Greece. Acropolis Museum Workers Make Demands; Angering and Frustrating Tourists.

Athens, Greece.  14 October 2010.

Police versus Worker

You’ve probably heard the news, too, just announced on television that police have gone into the Acropolis to break up a demonstration by museum workers there.  The museum workers are protesting the changes in their salary status, retirement schedule and many other recently instituted budgetary changes.

Ideally it would be best to hear the reasons each person is protesting from an interview and allow oneself some ability to distinguish from those who simply do not want change from those that do not want the Greek government involved with IMF loans from those who want the bankers held responsible and refuse to take on the debt caused by speculation.

Those are only the general categories of course.  Reasons are as varied as the personalities of the workers. Although their union leaders could articulate their argument well.

Pitting the police against the workers has become visually appealing to the media around the world; as well as popular with  entities that don’t want to deal with workers  face to face or for some reason can’t deal with union leaders.

No reason to expect any progress from a clash with police regardless of the goals of a demonstration.

Workers versus Tourists

Did you know that Greece has much more to offer than the Acropolis as a tourist destination?  Did you know that Greece has many more businesses than the tourism business? Did you know that other countries also have strikes at their museums? Did you know that Greece as well as other countries must close access to great monuments periodically from tourists due to strikes, repairs and upkeep?

  • The first obvious lack of emotion is the tourists lack of compassion for the workers.  Where are these tourists from? I wonder because the European and International media has harped on Greece’s hard times and austerity plans for months. Are these tourists workers, do they have jobs waiting for them in their home countries? What country are they from that they can afford a vacation to Greece right now.
  • Many news outlets have describe the rage and frustration of the tourists who have come to Athens but are prevented from visiting the Acropolis due to the strike of the workers.
  • These must be the least clever of all tourists touring the world.  First they should call ahead to find out if the can tour the site. Where ever you are in the world, what ever site you wish to visit, call first so you will know if you can enter the site or not.
  • Athens has literally thousands of incredible locations for tourists who sincerely are interested in making their trip to Athens a rich experience. Tourists should always have a fall back plan where ever they are in the world.  Plans must often change due to the weather, going to a site, museum, event on the wrong day or when there is an unanticipated closure.
  • Vacation is a time to relax and allow oneself some flexibility to demand that every thing go your way in a foreign country is arrogant and many feel embarrassed to see this childish behavior on television.

Here are those steps in fewer words.

Common sense suggestions for tourists.

  • Tourists, show some compassion for the citizens of the country to which you have ventured. You may be surprised at just how much you have in common.
  • When you make a daily plan to your movements during the day, be sure to note the phone numbers of the places you wish to visit. It’s important to call ahead to make sure you will be able to enter your chosen
  • Always have some fall back plans. How easily one’s plan can be made undoable due to weather, transportation or illness.
  • Be flexible about reaching your goal of enjoying your vacation.  Bullying the people at your destination could cause a heart attack or other event that would surely ruin the atmosphere of relaxation a vacation should produce.

Here are the same steps in even fewer words.

  • Recognize your empathy for the people (human beings) in the country you visit.
  • Call ahead to make sure your destination for the day is available.
  • Have a list of alternative activities if your first chosen isn’t possible.
  • Be flexible and
  • have some fun.

Disclosure. I crossed a picket line one time in my life and that was at a museum in Toronto, Canada.  I had to make a wrenching decision whether to walk away from the museum in solidarity with the workers or to walk into the museum to view the “Lady of Sports.”  I chose to view the “Lady of Sports” although I can’t say I am proud of my choice.

Here’s a report from the conservative leaning Greek paper Kathimerini.  When you read you will discover how more information gives a news consumer a different perspective on a news story. Vicki

Acropolis caught up in jobs row

14 October 2010 e-Kathimerini English version

Tourists climb a slope on Philopappou Hill to get a view of the Acropolis, which was closed yesterday by protesting Culture Ministry workers. The site may be closed again today.

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.