Hotel workers in several Norwegian cities are angry at their own union for agreeing over the weekend to avert a strike that had been called for this week. That suggests that the threat of a strike still looms, later this month.
The workers aren’t happy with a pay offer that was twice the hotel employers’ original offer, claiming that their pay and benefits still lag far behind that of other organized groups of workers. That’s why they were surprised and disappointed that the labour federation representing them, Fellesforbundet, accepted the hotel employers’ offer.
“We’re in shock,” Merethe Sutton, who represents 34 hotel workers at the Quality Hotel Edvard Grieg in Bergen, told newspaper Bergensavisen. “Everyone I’ve spoken with is very disappointed. They’re angry that we didn’t get an opportunity to tighten the wage gap further.”
Sutton said the hotel workers want incomes closer to those of industrial workers who also are organized in Fellesforbundet. Sutton claimed the pay gap between them is still around NOK 100,000 (USD 17,000) per year.
“Many think it’s become a joke to be members of the union any longer, and are talking about withdrawing,” she told Bergensavisen. “Fellesforbundet doesn’t seem to have expected that we’d be so dissatisfied, and they may be sorry.”
The rank and file members are due to vote on the settlement May 22. If it’s rejected, a strike may be called after all.
More than 2,600 workers at around 70 hotels nationwide were poised to walk off the job on Monday, but the strike was averted after sudden resumption of talks with a state mediator on Saturday. Clæs Delp,leader of Fellesforbundet, had hailed the settlement and still thinks it was good, saying that it’s “what we managed to get without a conflict. We don’t know what more we might get with a strike. We know there’s a pay gap, and we know that this (proposed settlement) will help narrow it.”
Delp told news bureau NTB, however, that “the members can express what they think about it” at the vote on May 22.”