Strike sparks new airport distress

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Airline passengers were having to stand for as long as two-and-a-half hours in airport security lines at Stavanger’s airport on Friday, because of an ongoing strike by security guards. Hopes rose, though, for a settlement over the weekend as the nationwide strike continued to claim innocent victims all over the country.

Travelers missed flights, the already hard-pressed airlines are losing more money and other airport personnel faced layoffs as the strike dragged on for the seventh day. Popular museums were forced to close, many retailers halted cash payments and security firms lacked to staff to send out if alarms started ringing.

There’s little doubt Norwegians were getting a crash course in the widespread role security guards now play in everyday life. With nearly 2,500 of them out on strike, demanding standard hourly pay at least as high as that offered cleaning personnel, they’re clearly being missed.

With schools letting out on Friday for the long summer holidays, airlines and airports worried that new chaos would loom. Many airports in Norway have been closed for days, and crowds at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen could challenge a system there that otherwise has held up well during the strike.

“Folks must get to the airport early,” warned Jo Kobro, information chief at Gardermoen. 

On Saturday, though, both sides in the labour conflict agreed to meet with the state mediator for “voluntary” talks from 10am. That gave rise to speculation that a settlement may be near.

“I interpret it as positive that the two sides said ‘yes’ to meet for talks with their delegations on a Saturday morning,” said state mediator Kari Gjesteby, who was bracing for a long day.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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