Labour Minister Hanne Bjurstrøm intervened on Wednesday in an ongoing strike by workers at privately run nursing homes. She claimed the strike was imperiling the health and lives of nursing home residents, but her own party’s youth group objected.
Bjurstrøm’s decision to halt the month-long strike, by workers demanding the same, higher pension benefits as those offered in the public sector, came just as the strike spread from Oslo and Bærum to Eidsvoll and Bergen. The numbers of people actually on strike were small, with a total 173 persons, but their union federation also planned sympathy strikes in other sectors.
Bjurstrøm of the Labour Party effectively ordered them all back to work in what was the latest example of the left-center government intervening in labour conflicts. Labour’s own youth group, AUF, was unhappy with her move, arguing that the right to strike is deeply ingrained in Norwegian society and should be respected. The unions were also disappointed.
“It’s too bad the government found it necessary to step in with compulsory arbitration,” Kjellfrid Blakstad of labour federation Fagforbundet told news bureau NTB. She did not believe the strike threatened life or health, but rather that the private operators of the nursing homes were doing so.