State workers want more time off

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Labour unions representing state workers are demanding 12 extra days off every year, plus even more for senior workers over age 62. The idea is to make it easier for the employees to take care of ageing parents, for example, and to discourage older workers from retiring.

Newspaper VG reported that the unions want state workers to have 10 days a year in which they can take time off from work at full pay to care for close family members. They also want what’s generally called velferdspermisjon, which also allows such paid family leave, to be increased from 12 to 14 days every year.

One of the unions, Akademikerne, also wants workers over age 62 to receive 28 additional days off, in addition to the 30 days of paid holiday they get every year. That means senior employees would effectively get three months off every year.

Pay levels, however, remain the unions’ most important issue. “When we know that (state) workers get 70 percent of what their colleagues earn in the private sector, pay is what means the most in this year’s settlement,” Rikke Ringsrød, a union negotiator, told news bureau NTB.

Negotiations between the state and around 150,000 employees broke off after just four days of talks. The government minister in charge of negotiations, Rigmor Aasrud, said she was surprised and disappointed that the two sides had to enter mediation so soon. She refused to comment on the demand for more time off.

Views and News staff