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Friday, May 24, 2024

Thousands more set to go on strike

Hospital workers settled a dispute with their state employers and headed back to work on Tuesday, but transport workers and around 17,000 local government employees around the country remained on strike. Another 26,000 may join them on Wednesday.

Unions representing the municipal workers were threatening to expand their strike for higher pay and more funding to boost salaries at the lower end of the scale. That’s demanded as a means of narrowing what’s being called a “gender pay gap,” since many of those in lower paid professions tend to be women.

Nearly 1,000 health care workers, though, who had been called out on strike last week, returned to work after accepting an average 3.5 percent pay hike that includes special payments to help close the gender gap. The agreement was reached after a late-night session with Norway’s national mediator.

Hospitals were relieved, after having to cancel many operations because of staffing shortages. In Norway, where patients often must wait months for non-critical operations, the cancellations caused frustration and disappointment.

Oslo has been largely spared from the widespread strikes at the municipal level, because it negotiates separately and came to terms with the city last week. But other cities like Bergen, Kristiansand, Fredrikstad, Trondheim and Tromsø have felt the strike’s effects, with many schools and day care centers closed, for example.

It was due to get worse if no progress was made in new negotiations. Thousands of transport workers are also on strike for higher pay, with no settlement in sight.

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