Strikes to Hit Room Service, Roulette in Monaco

Hotel service in Monaco was limited and casino roulette wheels were expected to stop spinning Thursday as employees in the wealthy Mediterranean principality went on strike to protest job cuts, union leaders said.


Monaco is known more as a stomping ground for the rich and famous than as a center of labor unrest. But the strike's organizer, the Union of Monaco's Labor Unions, has said it expects the protest to be "among the most important in the last decade."

In a statement, the union said it expected bankers, factory, hospital, supermarket, hotel and casino employees and even members of Monaco's Philharmonic Orchestra to walk off the job. Some of the work stoppages were expected to last just a few hours while others were slated to last the entire day.

An afternoon march to the Sainte Devote square, in the center of the tiny seaside country -- known worldwide as a tax haven for the wealthy -- was planned, though rainy weather threatened to dampen turnout.

Workers are protesting a general reduction in employment in Monaco, which, according to the union statement, has lost more than 11 percent of its jobs over the past decade.

They are also calling for improved working conditions, though gave no details on this demand.

The government declined immediate comment on the strike and was expected to issue reaction following the afternoon march.

An employee representative from the Societe de Bains de Mer, which owns the Monte Carlo Casino and several landmark hotels and spas in Monaco, said the strike had been "strongly followed."

Jean-Paul Hamet said "very few employees" showed up for work Thursday morning at the historic Hotel de Paris and Hermitage hotels, though he could not provide any numbers.

He said the hotels' management had notified guests that service would be limited because of the strike.

"They left guests a note saying that room service wouldn't be available and that perhaps only one of the hotels' restaurants would be open," Hamet said in a telephone interview.

He added he didn't think the inconvenience had pushed any guests to check out. With the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament taking place this week, hotels are operating at near capacity, Hamet said.

Monaco has among the world's highest per-capita income. While some workers are native-born Monegasques, many commute from neighboring France or Italy.