Norway’s biggest union representing teachers, Utdanningsforbundet, has lost at least 500 members since it opted to controversially go along with a labour settlement that called for teachers to spend at least 7.5 hours a day at the schools where they work. The teachers overwhelmingly rejected the pact, and clearly are angry with their union.
The teachers voted to strike instead, with Norwegian schools still facing disruption when the fall term starts next month if no new settlement is reached in the meantime. Oslo schools negotiated separately, so there will be no strike in the capital, but around 65,000 teachers are poised to set up picket lines in August instead of getting their classrooms ready for the new school year.
They remain unhappy that their union went along with calls by local governments for the teachers to have more regimented workdays. The teachers argue they regularly bring work home instead, and should be allowed to organize their own workdays.
Union leader Ragnhild Lied told state broadcaster NRK that the loss of 500 members “wasn’t very dramatic,” claiming it wasn’t unusual to lose members at the end of the school year. The union has since responded to the rank and file demands of its members and will front them in the pending strike, which already is officially underway but hasn’t had much noticeable effect since schools are closed for the summer holidays.