Hotel strike to hit Norway next week

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It’s strike season in Norway, and unionized members of the hotel- and restaurant branch became the latest on Wednesday to decide to walk off the job next week. The strike will affect 69 hotels in Norway’s largest cities, just as the bicentennial celebrations climax in the run-up to the 17th of May holiday.

Hotels in Oslo and Stavanger, like the Radisson Blu Atlantic here in the Norway's oil capital, are being hit the hardest by the strike called for next week. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Hotels in Oslo and Stavanger, like the Radisson Blu here in Norway’s west coast oil capital, are being hit the hardest by the strike called for next week. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The strike shows a grassroots level of deep dissatisfaction among the workers, since the labour federation representing the workers (Fellesforbundet) and the employers organization NHO Reiseliv had agreed on a contract proposal. The rank and file voted on it, though, and a majority rejected its terms for pay and pension benefits, training of migrant workers from abroad and rights for wage negotiations at the local level.

The strike will begin Monday morning and state broadcaster NRK reported it will force the closure of Oslo’s Grand Hotel, where 109 employees will be called out on the picket lines. The Grand is a traditional center for 17th of May events, so the timing of the strike may upset holiday plans if it drags on through the week. This year’s 17th of May will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution from 1814.

“We don’t have any goal of spoiling folks’ festive mood for the 17th of May,” Arve Bakke of Fellesforbundet told state broadcaster NRK, putting the blame entirely on the hotel owners and operators. “Now it’s up to the employers to bring an end to this conflict.”

All told, the strike will involve 2,621 hotel and restaurant workers at 69 hotels. “All of them will have to close,” claimed Tore Skjelstadaune of Fellesforbundet. “Some of them will surely try to stay open, but that will be impossible because so many union members are called out on strike.”

Oslo and Stavanger will be hit the hardest, with 15 Oslo hotels targeted including, among others, Holmenkollen Park Hotel,  Radisson’s Oslo Plaza and Scandinavian hotels, the Scandic Byporten, Edderkoppen and KNA hotels, Thon Hotel Opera and Bristol Hotel. Six hotels at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen will also be affected plus the Select Service Partner catering operation at the airport itself.

Workers at eight hotels in and near Stavanger will also go on strike, including the Radisson Royal and Atlantic hotels, along with six hotels in Bergen spread over the Radisson, Thon, First, Clarion, Rica and Scandic chains. Seven hotels in Tromsø are targeted, along with hotels in Kongsberg, Haugesund, Trondheim, Mo i Rana, Mosjøen and Brønnøysund.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund