|Unpaid Greek Workers Heckle Culture Minister on Acropolis |
A security guard tries to snatch a banner from protesting archaeological site contract workers outside the 5th century B.C. Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, Greece's best-known ancient monument, in Athens on Tuesday, May 25, 2010. Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and Greek President Karolos Papoulias visited the Acropolis Tuesday to view newly-completed restoration and conservation work, which started in 2001. About 100 ministry employees seized the opportunity to protest about months of unpaid wages and the prospect of losing their jobs later this year. AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris.
By: Nicholas Paphitis, Associated Press Writer
ATHENS (AP).- Greece's economic problems erupted at the country's best-known ancient site Tuesday, as unpaid cultural heritage workers heckled the country's culture minister during a tour of newly completed restoration work on the Acropolis.
Amid goggling tourists, about 100 protesters with bullhorns and banners pressed Pavlos Geroulanos to pay wages outstanding for up to 16 months and to renew their soon-to-expire contracts. The demonstration ended peacefully after the minister conceded that many of the demands were "absolutely justified," and promised action on the delayed pay.
Greece is locked in a major debt crisis, and this month avoided bankruptcy by the skin of its teeth with a 110 billion ($136 billion) rescue package from EU countries and the International Monetary Fund.
In return, Athens agreed to slash pensions and civil service pay, while raising consumer taxes in an effort to boost lagging revenues.
But contract culture ministry workers, used by successive governments to cheaply plug essential needs, feel doubly cheated.
"I haven't been paid for nearly a year now, and they say they won't renew our contracts in October," said Apostolos Tseklimas, 60, a laborer at the Marathon ancient site working on contracts since 2001. "It's as if we count for nothing. I have four children, and need to work for another year to get a full pension."
Conservation technician Ioanna Zervaki said the ministry has not hired any full-time workers in her field for years, relying instead on contract employees to get the work done. Contract workers are considered the lowest ranking civil servants in Greece.
"Despite my 10 years experience with the ministry in this field, I have no chance at all of getting a full-time job," she said.
Protest organizers said about 1,500 ministry contract workers faced similar problems.
Despite the crisis, the government has pledged to continue with the massive Acropolis project, which started in the 1970s and is expected to continue for at least another decade.
Geroulanos said the work would be mostly funded by EU aid which accounted for roughly 33 of the 43 million spent since 2001.
"Very significant funds have already been spent, and that will continue," Geroulanos said.
Built on a low hill at the height of ancient Athenian glory, the Acropolis monuments have suffered over the past 2,500 years from war, weather, vandalism, restoration errors and most recently air pollution. Most of the surviving sculptures have been removed to a new museum next to the ancient citadel, although 14 original carved marble slabs remain on the Parthenon.
Geroulanos spoke under the ruined 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple, where ministry workers recently dismantled, conserved and reassembled eight of the 46 towering marble columns that initially formed a rectangle around the building and propped up the roof.
The colonnade survived intact until 1687, when a besieging Venetian army's artillery blew up the Parthenon used as a gunpowder store by the defending Turkish garrison. The eight columns on the temple's northern side were first restored in the 1920s, in a well-meant effort that caused problems when iron rusted and expanded, cracking the ancient marble.
Crews are now preparing to tackle the western part of the temple, while future work will include rebuilding the internal marble walls to a height of about three meters (10 feet), and removing a concrete floor installed to protect the original marble pavement.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
May 26, 2010
Exhibition of 100 Masterpieces from the Collections of the Musée d'Orsay Opens in Tokyo
Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby's in Paris
Long-Unseen Rivera, Kahlo Works at Latin American Art Sales
Germany's Ozeaneum is the European Museum of the Year
Holland's Largest Contemporary Art Fair, Art Amsterdam, Opens
Art Gallery of South Australia Announces New Director
John Zurier, Jason Fox, and Richard Allen Morris at Peter Blum Gallery
Unprecedented Partnerships Bring Drama to Life at AGO
Denver Biennial of the Americas Announces Inaugural Exhibition
Rare and Beautiful Treasures at Christie's Sale this June
Unpaid Greek Workers Heckle Culture Minister on Acropolis
A Magnificent Pagan Altar was Exposed at the Barzilai Hospital Compound
Dallas Museum of Art Receives Certification to Ship Works of Art
Foundling Museum Exhibits the Finest Works Submitted through the Flourish Programme
Frank Auerbach Painting of His Lover to Be Auctioned at Bonhams
Auction of World's Greatest Collection of Snuff Bottles Illustrates a Chinese Emperor's Personal Taste
Alexander Melamid's "Oh My God" Opens at Phillips de Pury & Company
Ex Hacienda Where Emiliano Zapata was Gunned Down to be Restored
Bank of America Merrill Lynch Announces Unique Art Conservation Funding Programme
Peter Max and Annette de la Renta Receive 20th Anniversary, the Black Alumni of Pratt Awards
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Colossal statue of Amenhotep III unveiled on the west bank of the Nile in Egypt
2.- British royals crown New York visit with gala dinner
3.- Missing artwork rediscovered in "Stuart Little" sells for over 200,000 euros at auction
4.- Rossetti's Venus Verticordia soars at Sotheby's in London to sell for £2.88 million
5.- Russian magnate buys, then returns Nobel prize to American geneticist James Watson
6.- Egyptian Museum unveils four newly renovated halls of the famed Tutankhamun gallery
7.- 'The Secret of Dresden: From Rembrandt to Canaletto' on view at the Groninger Museum
8.- Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum reopens after three-year renovation
9.- More than 200 queries about works by possible heirs received on Nazi-era art hoard
10.- Attorney, artist and filmmaker reflects on the seven lessons learned at 2014 Art Basel Miami Beach
Athens' Parthenon Scaffold-Free for First Time in Years
Greek Police Seize Two Rare Statues From Two Farmers
Athens Print Fest to Open with Several Exhibitions Around the City
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|