Colosseum closed by union meeting, culture minister irate

(AGI) Rome, Sept 18 - Tourists in Rome on Friday were unable tovisit the Colosseum and other major archeological sites,including the Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, and Baths ofDiocletian, because of a union meeting lasting until 11:30 am.The news was received with indignation from Italy's cultureminister, Dario Franceschini, who called Friday morning the"last straw" and said he would propose a measure in the Councilof Ministers "this very evening" to redefine museums and placesof culture as essential public services, which are protectedfrom strikes. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi alsocommented on the incident

(AGI) Rome, Sept 18 - Tourists in Rome on Friday were unable tovisit the Colosseum and other major archeological sites,including the Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, and Baths ofDiocletian, because of a union meeting lasting until 11:30 am.The news was received with indignation from Italy's cultureminister, Dario Franceschini, who called Friday morning the"last straw" and said he would propose a measure in the Councilof Ministers "this very evening" to redefine museums and placesof culture as essential public services, which are protectedfrom strikes. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi alsocommented on the incident on Twitter, stating that thegovernment would not leave culture "hostage" to unionists whodo harm to Italy. He tweeted that he sided with Franceschini onthe need for swift legislative action. "Right when safeguardingand promoting our cultural heritage has returned to the centreof the government's agenda after years, right when data ontourism has been remarkably positive, just when the Expo andJubilee are garnering even more of the world's attention, justwhen I as minister am involved in talks on the stability lawand seek to find more resources for culture and the ministry'spersonnel, a new union meeting - this time at the Colosseum,the most important archaeological site in Rome - meant thattourists were left to wait in line before the whole world,"Franceschini lamented. "Evidently, common sense in applyingrules and in exercising one's rights is no longer enough toavoid damaging your own country. This is why this morning we,together with Prime Minister Renzi, agreed that I will proposenew legislative measures at this afternoon's Council ofMinisters," he stated. The chairman of the Italy's strikeauthority, Roberto Alesse, agreed on the need bring culturalsites back into the fold of essential services. "Yesterday," hesaid, "the Senate began discussing the bill to change the lawon lawful strikes, which the government has pushed for, and Ihope that the topic will be approached with precision andprofessionalism." "Leaving our cultural heritage outside thecategory of public services means continuing to give ourcountry a negative image to its citizens and the millions oftourists of choose to visit our cities daily." . .