One of Norway’s biggest state labour organizations kept holding out for a bigger pay raise over the weekend, even after two of its counterparts accepted a sweetened pay hike of around 4.1 percent and started returning to work. Not only did Unio Stat refuse to settle, its leaders threatened to pull even more of its members off the job in the week ahead.
The state’s offer “just wasn’t good enough,” Unio’s lead negotiator Arne Johannessen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “Our overall evaluation was that Unio couldn’t accept it, even though the others did.”
Both YS Stat and LO Stat ended a long night with a state mediator by accepting the state’s new offer early Saturday and calling it “a good result.” Another major labour organization, Akademikerne, had accepted the offer as well and now will receive solid raises in addition to the generous pension plans they already enjoy. Public sector pensions in Norway are worth much more than those in the private sector, with some economists telling newspaper Aftenposten last week that their value alone can amount to the equivalent of a 12 percent pay raise.
The agreement hammered out during the weekend means that some of the disruption of the public sector strike that began last week will now end. Port pilots, for example, would return to their jobs, allowing shipping to resume inside the Oslo Fjord. Vessels have been waiting at anchorage for the past 10 days, unable to berth because of the lack of pilots inside the fjord, and that sparked concerns that petroleum terminals would run dry and halt deliveries to gasoline stations. That’s no longer a concern.
At least 20 cruiseships had also been turned away during the past week, disrupting the holidays and schedules of thousands of passengers, and meaning large tourism losses in Oslo. Now they presumably will be allowed to resume operations as well.
Municipal strikes continue
Thousands of public sector workers at the municipal level, however, remain on strike, including around 25,000 tied to LO, 15,000 tied to Unio and 900 tied to YS at the local level and another 3,000 tied to Unio at the state level. In addition, around 600 workers in Oslo remain on strike, with the walkouts affecting schools, day care centers, health care, police and such basic services as garbage collection.
In a separate action, the labour organization representing security guards also went on strike, causing long lines at airport security control and threatening cash supplies at stores and minibanks. Some airports in Norway warned they may need to close if the strike continues.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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