France: Louvre staff on strike over unrelenting theft

Museum suffers from pickpockets, demands more guards

10 April, 17:05

    Louvre Museum most visited art venue in 2011 [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20090516 ] Louvre Museum most visited art venue in 2011 [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20090516 ]

    (ANSAmed) - PARIS0 - Louvre Museum employees staged a walk-out on Wednesday, forcing the museum to close for the day.

    The staff were protesting the increasingly aggressive pickpocketing targeting both visitors and personnel amid such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus of Milo. The problem of pickpockets at the famous Paris museum - one of the largest and most frequently visited in the world - is getting worse by the day. For months the Louvre has been warning its millions of visitors to keep a close eye on their belongings. Nevertheless, both visitors and staff members continue to be targeted. The Paris museum said that it had reported the matter to the police and requested backup security guards. About a hundred Louvre staff members gathered on Wednesday in front of the Ministry of Culture to express their ''exasperation''. The Louvre's management reported that 200 employees had ''exercised their right to stop work'' in protest. According to Christelle Guyader from the SUD union, staff ''are sometimes scared to work because they are confronted with organized gangs of pickpockets who are becoming more and more aggressive''.

    ''They come with minors that get into the museum for free, and even if they get arrested by police they return a few days later,'' she added. Last year the Louvre racked up a record-high ten million visitors. For months numerous warnings have been posted inside of the museum halls, near the cash desks and on the door of every section to warn visitors of the possible presence of thieves in the museum. The management reported that ''prosecutors and the police have already been mobilized'' and more ''adequate'' security system will be brought in. (ANSAmed).

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