Norway’s largest teachers’ union announced Wednesday that it was calling another 851 teachers out on strike from next Tuesday. That means the strike that began in June will spread to another 31 schools around Norway if it drags into the fourth week after teachers were supposed to be back on the job.
The expansion announced by Utdanningsforbundet comes just days after talks broke down once again between the teachers and the organization representing their municipal employers around the country, KS.
“It’s important for us to increase the pressure on KS and the local governments, so that we can get a good result and increase the chance to end the strike,” Ragnhild Lied, leader of the union, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday afternoon.
She claimed that the youngest students in the first through fourth grades will be shielded from the strike, but it otherwise now is affecting around 100,000 school students from one end of the country to the other. A total of 8,927 teachers represented by four different unions will be on strike from next week.
The five new municipalities affected by the expanded strike include Kongsvinger, Nøtterøy, Randaberg, Orkdal and Østre Toten. Elementary, intermediate and high schools are affected and the deputy leader of Utdanningsforbundet, Terje Skyvulstad, said the teachers were prepared for the strike to drag on for a long time.
The other unions involved include Norsk lektorlag, Skolenes landsforbund and Musikernes fellesorganisasjon, which already announced an increase in the number of their teachers called out on strike.
The teachers remain deadlocked with KS on the thorny issue of work hours. The teachers want to retain flexible hours, while KS wants to be able to insist that they spend 7.5 hours every day on schoolgrounds.