Marathon mediation warded off threatened strikes this week by 3,500 state workers plus lots of municipal employees in cities including Oslo. Most settled for pay raises of around 3.8 percent, but teachers elsewhere around the country remain dissatisfied and still may strike on their own.
Police, researchers and state bureaucrats were among those who settled, but unions representing teachers definitely did not. “The teachers lost out last year, both in the short- and long-term,” Steffen Handal, who led negotiations for teachers organized in the labour organization Unio. He claimed the agreement reached with other work groups “didn’t match teachers’ demands.” They want higher pay to reflect their own higher education, and to help recruit new teachers to the field.
Officials in the organization representing the municipalities that finance the schools, KS, retorted on NRK’s nightly newscasts that starting pay of just over NOK 500,000 (USD 52,000) a year for some teachers fresh out of university “is no bad salary” but teachers disagree. In most cities it won’t be enough to get a home loan, or even pay high rents.
The teachers’ unions are thus refusing to sign proposed labour agreements hammered out on Tuesday and will probably strike after a two-week cooling-down period, even though that’s just when schools will be closing for the summer. Teachers in Oslo, however, negotiate separately and came to terms with city officials.