Mediation aims to ward off major strikes

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Mediation was underway Thursday in the hopes of averting major strikes in the public sector that could affect police districts, health care services and schools in 21 municipalities. Many other state-run services can also be affected, from tax return processing to cleaning staff at local hospitals.

State and local government negotiators failed to satisfy the demands of labour organizations representing a wide range of civil servants. Teachers seemed to have the most public sympathy and support in their call for higher pay. One teenager who’s among thousands faced with being unable to take final exams and receive grades before schools lets out for the summer told state broadcaster NRK that “my teacher’s pay is more important than my exam.”

Labour organization Unio already warned that 7,000 of its members would be called out on strike from Friday, mostly teachers at the junior high- and high school levels. The local governments’ representative, called KS, offered teachers a raise of 3.03 percent, less than the average pay growth in the municipal sector of 3.25 percent.

Unions representing state workers were also threatening to call around 4,000 people out on strike from Friday if their pay demands aren’t met. A strike would affect personnel at various universities, state tax offices, police districts and, from next week, low-paid support staff at Oslo University Hospital, St Olavs Hospital in Trondheim, Helse Bergen and Sørlandet Hospital in Kristiansand.

newsinenglish.no staff