Security guards head back to work

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Airports and museums re-opened on Monday and cash was getting easier to use once again, after a strike by security guards all over Norway ended over the weekend. A tentative settlement was reached after marathon mediation with state officials.

State mediator Kari Gjesteby said the settlement was reached shortly after midnight Saturay, when employers group NHO Service accepted a proposal from the union representing the nearly 2,500 striking security guards, Arbeidsmandsforbundet. Their agreement calls for an overall pay raise of NOK 7.19 per hour and regulation of nighttime and weekend shifts, plus “better pay development” in coming years.

The security guards had walked off the job last weekend after demands for higher pay weren’t met. The strike spread mid-week and it led to long lines at airport security controls, forced some airports to close and eventually shut down several museums as well.

Since there was a lack of security guards to transport currency, some retailers stopped accepting cash at check-out points. Norwegian “minibanks” (automated teller machines) started running out of cash and even many parking meter machines would only take credit cards, since they hadn’t been emptied of coins.

Some officials worried that public safety was becoming endangered, not least when security firms said they likely wouldn’t be able to respond to burglar or robbery alarms, while helicopter service to North Sea oil and gas installations was disrupted because of the lack of airport security.

With the union threatening to expand the strike from Monday, the two sides heeded what Gjesteby had called a “voluntary” call for weekend mediation. Union leader Erna Hagensen said the final round of mediation was “quite hard” but that she was “first and foremost very glad that we found a solution.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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