Ragnhild Lied, leader of Norway’s biggest teachers’ union, was pleased that fully 79 percent of her members backed her decision to settle their strike that delayed the start of the school year. She’s nonetheless evaluating her position, since 21 percent of her members still weren’t happy with her work.
“Of course I’ll be evaluating whether they (the membership of the union) have confidence in me,” Lied told state broadcaster NRK after the vote on the union leadership’s proposal to settle the strike was tallied this week. Teachers went back to work last week, but the actual settlement was pending results of the union members’ confirmation.
Lied, head of the union Utdanningsforbundet had also come under pressure last spring, when she accepted terms from municipal employers’ organization KS to make teachers’ work hours more rigid. Lied was trying to ward off of the strike, but teachers were furious over what they considered an infringement on their workplace flexibility. They rejected Lied’s proposal to accept KS’ offer and the strike began in June.
Lied then energetically led the strike and won applause as she traveled around the country to speak at union rallies and go into mediation. She was relieved with what she called “a solid ‘yes'” to the settlement but remains concerned.
“The fact that around 20 percent still said ‘no’ tells me that we still have a ways to go in getting an agreement that teachers fully support.” She noted that her earlier efforts “received a clear correction” with the vote to strike. “We changed course and carried out the strike,” she told NRK. “Now we’ll have an internal evaluation of the organization. You of course evaluate confidence when you have experienced what I have.”