Norway teachers to step up strike action

The teachers' union will ask 850 more teachers to strike, bring the total of teachers striking in Norway to 9,000, it was announced on Wednesday.

Norway teachers to step up strike action
Ragnild Lied, head of the Union of Education Norway and Per Kristian Sundnes, head of negotiation for KS, talk with press in Oslo after another failed meeting between the parties. Photo: Vegard Wivest

The Union of Education Norway has requested the 850 teachers strike from Tuesday next week and have said to all involved to prepare for longterm disruption. The move is in reaction to a breakdown in talks with employment union KS's to reach resolve over the dispute over teachers' working conditions.

Ragnhild Lie, head of the Union of Education, said to NTB: “This is necessary in order to increase the pressure on KS and the municipalities so that we can get a good result and increase the chances to end the strike.”
Thirty-one more schools and five more municipalities will be affected by the strike. The schools affected are in Kongsvinger, Nøtterøy, Randaberg, Orkdal and Østre Toten.
The Union of Education has protected the youngest pupils from 1st to 4th grade during the action which began over two weeks ago. The union has promised to continue this in the forthcoming action too.
Lied said: “It hasn't been easy, but we managed it also during the current strike.”
She added: “Even though this is a significant outtake, it is not so large that it will give reason for speculation on compulsory arbitration.”
If the strike goes on for a long time more, Norwegian municipalities will be able to save half-a-billion kroners during the strike. This money will not necessarily go back into schools, but could be used in other parts of the local governments' budgets.
Stand-in teacher Tom Eirik Ruud, 43, of Gulskogen school in Drammen said to Dagens Næringsliv: “When the municipalities save that much money, they are perhaps not interested in putting pressure on ending the strike.”
According to a survey conducted by NTB, around one third of the Norwegian population support the striking teachers. The majority do not sympathize.
Ragnhild Lied, reacting to the survey's finding, said to NTB that she understands the support shown.
Lied says: "It is interesting that the support is greatest in the age group containing many parents having school children. Maybe it’s due to the fact that they understand the teacher's need for the flexibility they have today in order to do a good job for the students.”

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Norway’s teachers’ strike over as unions agree

Agreement has been reached about teachers' working hours, ending the strikes that have disrupted Norway for over two weeks, it was announced on Monday.

Norway's teachers' strike over as unions agree
Pupils return to Norway schools from Tuesday after teachers' conflicts resolved. Photo: Shutterstock

Unions agreed to a solution for the debated teachers' working hours over the weekend and the outcome that the strike will end was announced at a press conference on Monday morning at 8.30am.

KS finally agreed to the teachers' unions demands about working hours, said Skolenes Landsforbund (National Association of Schools).
Anne Finborud, leader of Skolenes Landsforbund, said to NTB: “The agreement on the table now is significantly improved from the one we voted down in May, especially on working hours. This is where KS has been forced to retreat. We are still not completely satisfied and think that on some points the agreement is worse than today's agreement.”
Today's agreement on working hours will be in effect from one year ahead. The new agreement will not entail more working hours in schools, without local agreement.
The majority of the board of Skolenes Landsforbund voted for the agreement at the weekend. This offer will also be put to the union members' vote.
The solution of the conflict states that if the parties don't agree on working hours, the case will be brought further to an arbitration system within the local municipal government. If the parts cannot agree in this instance, today's agreement will then apply.
Finborud said: “This conflict has shown that KS obviously does not have the necessary competence to run schools. Now the municipalities, as school owners, have to listen to the teachers locally and contribute to build up the trust that KS has torn down.”
The partiesin the teacher conflict sat together until late on the night to Sunday, according to NTB.
More than 100,000 student at more than 200 schools were affected by the strike, but from Tuesday all pupils will return to their schools.