Security guards go out on strike

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Despite hours of negotiations long past an initial strike deadline, mediation failed to avert yet another labour conflict from hitting Norway. Nearly 1,800 vektere (security guards) will walk off the job from 8pm Friday evening, in a strike that’s expected to create long lines at airport security checkpoints and may leave minibanks (automated teller machines, ATMs) empty.

The strike was called by the labour organization Norsk Arbeidsmandsforbund, while another organization representing security guards, Parat, came to terms with employers’ organization NHO Service and won’t be pulling its members off the job.

Disrupting airport security clearance
That means a total of 149 security guards will go on strike at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen, for example, less than initially feared but a cutback that’s still expected to disrupt security clearance for airline passengers. Guards would also walking off the job at airports serving Bergen (Flesland), Stavanger (Sola), Trondheim (Værnes) and Tromsø (Langnes).

Airline passengers were urged to arrive at the airport at least an hour earlier than they normally would and be prepared for long lines. The airlines themselves are not involved in the strike, so there would be no immediate flight cancellations. Rather, it will be the responsibility of passengers themselves to get to their departure gates on time.

Concerns remained that the security cutbacks still may force closure of some airports, including Gardermoen, if the strike is extended next week and more workers are pulled off the job.

Minibanks may run empty
The new strike, which hits while Norway already is dealing with a strike by more than 50,000 public sector workers nationwide, will also affect other security guard services including those at public buildings, alarm companies and, not least, those that handle currency transport and refill minibanks (ATMs).

That means the minibanks that many Norwegians rely on may start running short of cash, or run empty, if the strike drags on.

The Oslo City Court (Oslo tingrett) has applied for dispensation from the strike, so as not to disrupt the lengthy terror trial expected to run for another three weeks. There were also questions about whether Oslo City Hall would need to close because of security guards being called from their posts.

While Parat’s members accepted a raise of NOK 8 per hour plus another NOK 2.50 for those with special competence, those tied to the other union organization remained unhappy with the pay offer they received.

State and municipal workers, meanwhile, were also continuing to hold out for raises of at least 4 percent, but there were reports of some progress as meetings resumed with a state mediator.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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