Talks in overtime averted train strike

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State railroad workers won a new collective bargaining agreement late Tuesday afternoon, after 17 hours of negotiations in overtime with the new state railroad agency Bane Nor. That heads off a train strike that threatened to disrupt service on several lines.

Trains including the Dovrebanen line between Trondheim and Oslo will be running as normal on Wednesday after marathon negotiations averted a train strike in Norway. PHOTO: NSB

Commuters could thus breathe a sigh of relief, as could both sides involved in the difficult talks that began more than a year ago. Workers demanded to retain the pay and benefits they had for years under the previous state agency in charge of railroad infrastructure, Jernbaneverket. It was reorganized, allegedly modernized and renamed Bane Nor in early 2017.

“I think this is a good agreement for colleagues in Bane Nor and it’s a flexible agreement for us in management,” Gorm Frimannslund, the new chief executive of Bane Nor, told state broadcaster NRK.

“This also means that we avoid a conflict so that passengers and cargo can get where they’re going,” Frimannslund added.

He described negotiations as demanding, especially the issue of work times for employees. He said the process, however, seemed to be necessary “to come forth to a result that both sides can live with.”

Rolf Rindahl, leader of the labour organization Norsk Lokomotivmannsforbund, called the negoations “tough.” He said it was important to clarify conditions for time on duty and night shifts, and claimed his union prevailed with its demands.

Leader of another large union, Norsk Jernbaneforbund, claimed to be “basically satisfied” with the agreement and “very glad that we can recommend (it) and avoid a conflict.” There’s been unrest among both employees and the traveling public of late, despite increased funding for trains and the railroad infrastructure in Norway, but everyone will be reporting to work as usual on Wednesday.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund