Major strike spreads to the capital

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UPDATED: Several hundred workers for the city of Oslo were called out on strike on Wednesday, after extended negotiations and mediation between their unions and municipal employer finally broke down. That means the closure of a long list of day care centers and schools, and a reduction in other public services.

Officials at City Hall in Oslo later managed to come to terms with some of the unions representing city workers, but not all, so the strike continued. PHOTO: Views and News

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that trade union confederations YS and Unio called the strike after Oslo officials came with an “ultimatum,” a pay raise amounting to less than 4 percent.

“It was a framework we couldn’t accept, and then our conclusion was simple,” Terje Vilno of Unio Oslo told NRK.

Employees represented by unions within the trade union confederation LO and Akademikerne, however, were not taken out on strike because they were still negotiating with city officials. They later came to terms, but the strike by colleagues continued.

The strike in Oslo will, in its first phase, pull 547 members of unions in Unio off the job along with 88 members of unions in YS. They won’t show up for work from Thursday morning.

Primary schools, high schools, nursing homes, neighborhood health stations and a variety of administrative services will be affected. Strikers will include workers at the Oslo Harbour Authority, the garbage terminal at Klemetsrud and the library at Lambertseter, for example.

Oslo has a tariff system that’s separate from other municipalities within Norway, which is why negotiations had continued in the capital after other workers went on strike around the country last week. Some political commentators also had claimed that Oslo’s center-right government led by the Conservative Party was keen to show that they could negotiate a settlement with workers when the state’s left-center, Labour-led government couldn’t. But in the end, they failed to come to terms with two key labour organizations as well.

“There was unfortunately too much distance between what we could offer and what they demanded,” Kristin Vinje, the city’s finance leader from the Conservative Party (Høyre) told NRK. “This will affect school students, since the teachers are going on strike. Nursing homes and day care centers will also be hit.”

For a list of affected schools, day care centers and other city institutions, see NRK’s preliminary rundown (external link, in Norwegian, but scroll down to the list.)

There will also be 30 fewer parking monitors on the job from Thursday. “That may be popular with the public, but it does affect income for the city,” said Martin Moen of YS in Oslo.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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