French worker loses his head at the Tower

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The Independent Online
France's most famous tourist attraction reopened last night after workers were persuaded to call off their strike and go back to work.

The Eiffel Tower has been shut while directors and staff tried to solve a somewhat strange situation. This strike was not about pay, working hours, retirement age or cuts in social security, as has been the case with most strikes of recent years in France. It was about the firing of one employee, enraging 50 of 220 employees and provoking a strike at one of the busiest times of the year.

The employee was sacked on Tuesday after attacking an English tourist who had wanted to change her ticket. According to sources at the Eiffel Tower, the employee lost his temper, grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her to the ground.

The Tower reopened late last night after two days of intensive talks. The employee will be sacked, but the directors have promised to help him find another job in another company.

Hugues De Baillien Court, the general secretary at the Tower, said that "the employee's conduct was inadmissible" and that he must be sacked. "We are not in the least bit proud of it." The 50 or so strikers, most of whom were stewards and lift operators, were demanding that the employee be kept on and employed in another section.

The Tower is the most visited tourist attraction in the world of those that charge an entrance fee. At this time of year it gets 25,000 visitors a day, attracting 800,000 in August, the busiest month. Losses during the strike were pounds 100,000 a day.