Hotel strike set to spread on Saturday

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Norway’s biggest trade union federation, LO, vowed on Monday to support a strike by hotel and restaurant workers in Norway, with labour officials accusing the employers’ organization of “cynical” methods of trying to force a settlement. The strike is set to spread on Saturday morning, with nearly 2,500 more workers to be taken off the job.

Another 2,447 union members working at 209 hotels and restaurants in six more counties will be called upon to join their more than 3,000 colleagues already out on the picket lines.

Conflict rises over hospitals’ hotels
A major portion of the press conference held Monday afternoon by trade union federations LO and Fellesforbundet, though, was devoted to a conflict around the hotels run for hospital patients and their families at the Haukeland and Ullevål University Hospitals in Bergen and Oslo respectively. The hospitals have applied for dispensation on the grounds of saving lives and preserving health, asking  employers’ organization NHO to forward their hotels’ applications to the unions for approval.

Fellesforbundet leader Jørn Eggum claimed that NHO was consciously refusing to forward the requests for dispensation, though, in an alleged effort to force the labour conflict into aribitration.

“They’re being cowards, and using sick people in a cynical manner as part of their agenda to involve the government,” Eggum claimed. “We’re in an uproar over this. NHO should taken much more responsibility for the ordinary playing rules here. NHO is trying to change the rules to which we’re accustomed.”

NHO won’t take the blame
Not true, retorted Jostein Hansen of NHO. “They’re putting the blame on us, but it’s Fellesforbundet that has taken these hotels and restaurants out on strike, so they can take responsibility themselves,” Hansen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “There is no basis for dispensation here. That would require sudden and unexpected circumstances, and we don’t have that now.”

The strike that was launched over the weekend has already forced the closure of several hotels and causing major problems for the tourism industry. The conflict has deepened and Eggum claimed there was “great mobilization” among workers and “great support” for the strike.

As for the threat that the strike will spread, Hansen admitted that “many will be affected, but that’s part of the game. It wasn’t unexpected for us.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund