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Gates of problem-plagued Pompeii closed again for hours in labour dispute, vexing tourists

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ROME - A labour dispute kept tourists locked out of Pompeii for several hours Monday, the latest in a spate of unplanned, partial closures at the ancient Roman ruins.

Frustrated tourists who wanted to enter the sprawling ruins in early morning were forced to wait for a union assembly to finish before the gates were unlocked — hours after the scheduled opening.

The dispute over work schedules and back pay began last week, keeping thousands of visitors shut out during union meetings. The government office that runs Pompeii said Monday that three assemblies planned later this week were cancelled — meaning visitors could now expect regular opening hours.

With funding chronically short for maintenance, some of Pompeii's ruins have suffered partial collapses in recent years. Bureaucracy has slowed the spending of special funds for repairs.

Pompeii drew 2.4 million visitors last year, placing it second only to the Colosseum-Forum complex in Rome among Italy's most visited archaeological attractions.

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