Striking workers again close down the Eiffel Tower ahead of its starring role in the Paris Olympics | KWKT

PARIS (AP) — Striking workers again closed down the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday, the third day running that the landmark expected to be at the heart of celebrations for the Paris Olympics has been off-limits to visitors.

A message on the tower’s website also warned of more possible disruptions Thursday, if strikers continue their push for salary hikes and other concessions. “We apologize for the inconvenience,” it said.

One of the strikers’ representatives, Denis Vavassori of the CGT union, has previously warned that their protest action “could go on for several days, even weeks.”

The operator of the 330-meter (1,083-foot) tower has not responded to requests for comment.

Striking employees are demanding a salary increase proportionate to revenue from ticket sales. They also want improved maintenance of the 135-year-old tower, which is showing traces of rust on some of its ironwork.

The tower earns millions of euros (dollars) annually for the city of Paris, its owner. Paris deputy mayor, Emmanuel Grégoire, said Wednesday that extended closures during the COVID-19 pandemic deprived the landmark of 130 million euros (about $140.5 million) in revenue. But he insisted that tower maintenance has not suffered as a consequence.

“The monument is in very good shape,” he told broadcaster France Info, adding that he expects the tower operating company to resolve the issue with the strikers.

The tower will feature prominently in the July 26-Aug. 11 Paris Games and the following Paralympics. The Olympic and Paralympic medals in Paris are being embedded with pieces from a hexagonal chunk of iron taken from the historic landmark.

Stephane Dieu of the CGT union that represents a large number of the Eiffel Tower’s employees said the strikers want to present their demands to the city’s officials and reach an agreement with the Tower’s owner “so that everything runs smoothly this summer.”

“The last thing we want is to find ourselves in a stalemate that would unfortunately lead to us being closed for part of the Olympic Games,” Dieu said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Union leaders have repeatedly criticized the tower operator’s business model, saying it’s based on an inflated estimate of future visitor numbers, at the expense of maintenance costs and employees’ pay.

The Eiffel Tower is typically open 365 days a year. Last year, the monument was closed to visitors for 10 days during massive protests across France against the government’s plan to reform the country’s pension system.