All three of Norway’s large teachers’ unions have voted to take some of their members out on strike when school starts later this month. Dissatisfaction with wage offers of 2.3 percent is growing, and may prompt a major strike as the weeks wear on.
“We don’t want to say how many will be called off the job, or when the strikes may expand,” Steffen Handal, leader of the large trade union federation Utdanningsforbundet, told newspaper Aftenposten, “but I think everyone should be prepared for school openings to be affected.”
The two other unions, Norsk Lektorlag and Skolenes landsforbund, have also warned of strikes among their members. Teachers have complained for years about low pay and wage growth that’s now far from keeping up with inflation. Their unions want to finally see “real wage growth” but no specific demands have been mentioned.
The kommuner (municipalities) that run Norway’s schools counter that the teachers have been offered up to NOK 30,000 a year more for those with low seniority. “Young, newly graduated teachers are among the winners in this year’s labour settlements,” Tor Arne Gangsø of the national municipal organization KS told Aftenposten. Others argue it’s not enough, with one labour researcher warning that once a strike starts, it could drag on for two to three weeks.