Workers upset over policy not to replace half of retiring public servants.
After more than 1 million people took to the streets yesterday to protest at Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reforms, rolling strikes continue today, causing widespread disruption to schools and transport and adding to a growing fuel crisis.
The Louvre Museum and the royal palace at Versailles were closed Thursday because of a French museum workers' strike that appears to be gathering steam.
Frustrated tourists gathered outside the landmark pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre, blocked off by workers. They are protesting government plans not to replace half of retiring public servants, which will affect the country's national museums.
The strike began at the Pompidou Center for modern art last month and workers at other national museums joined in Wednesday.
Union leaders met with Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand on Wednesday afternoon but won no concessions, and unions said the strike gained momentum Thursday. Kamal Hesni of the CFDT-Culture union said labor leaders voted to continue the strike Friday.
Versailles remained partially open Wednesday but closed to the public Thursday for lack of enough staff, a French national museum authority official said. The Pompidou Center and the Musee d'Orsay, with its renowned collection of Impressionist paintings, were also closed. The official was not authorized to be named according to the agency's policy.
The vast collection at the Louvre, a major attraction in Paris, was last shuttered by a strike in 2001 that lasted eight days.
The sumptuous Versailles chateau, which normally gets thousands of visitors daily, didn't have enough staff to open its doors. The extensive gardens beneath the chateau west of Paris remained open.