Greek economic crisis hurts conservation workers

When Greek Minister of Culture and Tourism Pavlos Geroulanos visited the Acropolis in Athens last week, he was met by a hundred booing employees.

The heritage workers are contracted professionals who are protesting late wages and planned firings. Some haven’t been paid in 16 months and many worry their contracts won’t be renewed next year.

Greece is undergoing a serious financial crisis and struggles under a huge national debt. It recently received a 110 billion euro ($136 billion) bailout from other European Union countries and the International Monetary Fund. The first installment came just in time to keep Greece from defaulting on its latest debt repayment.

Mr. Geroulanos promised action on the overdue pay.

The workers are some of the many government workers who don’t have a full-time job, but rather work on a contract basis. It is unclear how many will be fired because of the crisis, but the long restoration project at the Acropolis will continue, a third of it with EU funding.

Questions are also arising over archaeological and restoration projects all over the country. Sixteen percent of Greece’s GDP comes from tourism, yet serious cuts will have to be made in government spending to stabilize the economy. Greek’s current national debt is 115% of its GDP.

Image courtesy Thermos via Wikimedia Commons.