A lengthy conflict over work rules at Norwegian harbours resulted in the arrests of more than 40 union activists in Tromsø on Thursday, after they blocked cargo loading on one of Norway’s coastal voyage Hurtigruten ships. Union officials were upset.
“We have gone into an area and mounted a legal demonstration,” Geir Ingebrigsten of the transport workers union at Tromsø harbour told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “So this (the arrests) is incomprehensible for us.”
More than 50 people took part in the labour demonstration, which is rooted in a sympathy strike by 14 harbour workers in Tromsø. Their strike is linked to an ongoing tariff conflict at the Risavika harbour in Stavanger.
The demonstration in Tromsø erupted after cargo firm Nor Line hired others to handle cargo for the Hurtigruten ship, a move that the union equates to strike-busting. One of the first demonstrators to be arrested was Ronny Johansen, leader of the trade union confederaton LO in Tromsø.
The sympathy strike has been going on since December of last year, after a local union in Stavanger claimed to have exclusive rights to handle cargo at the privately owned harbour at Risavika.