Archaeological sites and museums across Greece have shut down for extended periods of time the last few weeks due to a strike by Culture Ministry employees protesting planned reforms that aim to streamline the ministry's operations. Workers are objecting to organizational reforms that they say could endanger some jobs and 'constitute a tombstone for the Culture Ministry'.

Strike action follows demands for more recruitments to cover the needs of extended opening hours that begin on April 1 at all sites. The union stresses that areas are understaffed to ensure the smooth and safe operation of the sites. Workers are calling for the government to take adequate measures rather than rush to recruit hundreds of contract workers at the last minute.

The union also expresses its objections to the merging of the culture and education ministries and the conversion of large museums to public-sector legal entities. The temporary staff are demanding “an autonomous culture ministry, stable payments, permanent staff hirings and other issues regarding their salaries.”

Gripped by a severe financial crisis since late 2009, Greece has been dependent on billions of euros in international rescue loans to remain solvent. In return, it has imposed structural reforms, deep spending cuts and tax hikes that have seen incomes slashed and unemployment spiralling to above 26 percent. May archaeological sites and museums have felt the impact of these budget cuts.

The union clarified that sites and museums will be shut down to the public during these hours though the national security staff will remain on duty.