More airports close as strike spreads

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More airports were forced to close and travelers through Norway’s main airport, Oslo Lufthavn Gardermoen, were being warned to arrive early after several hundred more security guards were pulled out on strike Tuesday. It may also soon be difficult to use cash in shops and restaurants.

Nearly 2,500 security guards are now on strike in Norway, and that means airport security control checkpoints are understaffed or not staffed at all. It also means that Norwegian “minibanks” (automated teller machines, ATMs) won’t be replenished and the cash terminals used for merchant deposits won’t be emptied.

Flights grounded
All the guards at airports serving Kristiansand (Kjevik), Ørsta/Volda, Kristiansund, Harstad/Narvik (Evenes) and Lakselv in Finnmark were pulled out on strike and thus had to close. Security guards at Haugesund/Karmøy, Førde, Molde (Årø), Stokmarknes/Skagen and Hammerfest had already left their posts during the first phase of the strike.

Flights to those airports from Oslo Gardermoen were halted but all others continued to run as usual. Passengers, however, were urged to allow plenty of time to get through security control at Gardermoen, after 110 of its security guards walked off the job.

“Clearly our capacity is considerably reduced,” airport spokesman Jo Kobro told newspaper Aftenposten. He added, though, that Oslo Gardermoen has 650 persons working at security control “and we’ll do what we can” to minimize effects of the strike.

Airlines are once again being hit hard just weeks after losing millions every day when airports were closed because of the volcanic ash from Iceland. Some politicians have called for an end to the strike, in an effort to stem more airline losses and travel disruption.

Pay conflict
The strike among employees at firms such as Securitas and Loomis began Saturday and spread after the latest attempt at a settlement failed late Monday.

Members of the union Norsk Arbeidsmandsforbund work at airports, shopping centers, toll plazas, parking garages and as money couriers, and they want raises to offset what they claim has been negative wage development in recent years. Their employers claim their demands are higher than the average raises granted in other branches.

The strike is also affecting Norway’s offshore oil and gas industry. Aftenposten reported that around 300 oil workers either couldn’t leave or travel out to offshore installations when helicopters were halted at mainland airports during the weekend.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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