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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Strike closes Munch Museum

A new strike by oil workers in the North Sea was averted on Thursday, but Oslo’s famed Munch Museum was forced to close for the next two days because of another, ongoing strike by security guards in Norway. The museum didn’t have enough guards to protect its collections.

Visitors won't be able to see Edvard Munch's "Scream" either on Thursday or Friday. PHOTO: Munch Museum Oslo

The strike by nearly 2,500 security guards nationwide has also closed some airports and is disrupting the use of cash all over the country. The airport serving Haugesund on Norway’s west coast was the latest due to close on Thursday.

The strike also has forced closure of the National Gallery in Oslo and the National Museum’s Architecture Museum this week, for security reasons, and now the Munch Museum, one of Oslo’s top tourist attractions. Museum officials told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) they were very sorry they had to close both Thursday and Friday of this week, just as the busy tourist season is getting underway.

The lack of guards, however, made security too risky at the museum that was the target of a spectacular armed robbery six years ago. It houses such treasures by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch as The Scream and Madonna, both of which were stolen but recovered, and on display this season.

The museum’s café and shop were remaining open and the exhibits were due to re-open during the weekend. It was unclear when the National Gallery, which also has a large Munch collection, would re-open.

The national strike by employees of firms such as Securitas and money courier firm Loomis was due to expand from Monday if no settlement is reached. That would pull 3,300 of the 4,500 guards represented by Norsk Arbeidsmandsforbund out on strike, and further disrupt, for example, security controls at Norwegian airports, which is what has forced the closure of several.

Meanwhile, operations on North Sea oil and gas platforms could continue as normal after three unions representing their workers came to terms with employers’ organization OLF (Oljeindustriens Landsforening). A strike was averted after talks went on for six hours after a midnight deadline.

Now the workers, mostly within drilling and catering operations, will get a general pay raise of NOK 10,000 plus another smaller raise to offset what the union felt was poor pay development in recent years.

“Negotiations were demanding,” Jan Hodneland of OLF told NRK, adding that the employers were satisfied with the settlement involving 6,700 employees.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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