Construction workers go on strike

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Around 19,000 construction workers were called out on strike early Tuesday, after negotiations broke down between their union and the Norwegian building trades employers’ organization. The strike affects around 800 companies.

It also was shutting down construction projects all over the country. The strike caught even some workers by surprise, with one telling Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he and his colleagues had received little information from their union representatives.

“I’m not sure what we’re striking over,” he said, but added that hourly wages have “pretty much stood still” in recent years, and it was time for some raises.

The strike is the first of Norway’s spring labour negotiations season. The same union, Fellesforbundet, managed to avert a strike against industrial employers just two days ago, and also reached settlements during the night with hotel and restaurant employers. Another major trade union, Handel og Kontor, also settled with employers’ organization HSH.

But Fellesforbundet opted to call its members off the job in the building trades after four-and-a-half hours of overtime talks during the night.

State mediator Merete Smith could find no grounds for a proposed settlement. The union’s deputy leader, Anders Skattkjær, said their were no grounds for agreement with employers organization Byggenæringens Landsforening.

Among the construction firms hit by the strike are Block Watne, Byggmester Gunnar Bech, Skanska Norge, NCC Construction, Veidekke and Adecco Bygg plus hundreds of others. Building activity will cease on many projects and it may also be difficult for private individuals to get hold of trades workers .

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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