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.

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Strike teachers on full pay as pupils go without

Teachers striking across Norway are receiving full pay from their union who boast a strike fund of more than 1 billion kroner, it was revelaed on Tuesday.

Strike teachers on full pay as pupils go without
Schools, like this one in Trondheim, brief pupils about the disruption caused by the Norway teachers' strike. Photo: Ned Alley / NTB scanpix

The Union of Education Norway is so cash-rich,  teachers are receiving full compensation while striking, despite mass strikes taking place across Norway four times in the past six years.

Teacher Roger Borne at Hop school, Askøy said to Bergens Tidende: “The Union of Education Norway has informed teachers that their bank account to cover the strike  is more full than ever.”
Lars Erik Wærstad, head of secretariat for the Union, said: “[The strikes before] didn’t cost us more than the amount we accrued from interest. We would have to go on strike for a long time for it to become a [financial] problem.”
Wærstad said that the Union can use all the money on this strike if necessary. “All together we got more than 1 billion NOK now, ” he said.
The Union of Education Norway gives striking members economic support equal to their wages after tax. Since pay on strike action is not eligible for tax, teachers will not lose financially during the conflict.
Meanwhile college students across Norway face a financial crisis as a result of the teachers' strike. Students must register at their college to receive their government grants to cover living costs during their education. However with staff shortages at colleges since last week, students are unable to register and receive vital funds.
The Norwegian Minister of Labour, Robert Eriksson, is also paying attention to the teacher's strike and has the power to intervene and stop the strike. He claimed, however, that society has to tolerate the consequences of a the teacher's strike without the government intervening.
Eriksson said to Dagens Næringsliv: “I, as Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, am paying attention to the consequences of the strike and how the situation develops. It is the health authorities evaluating whether there is danger for life and health connected to conflicts. Other connected authorities evaluate the situation for areas of society.”
Prime Minister Erna Solberg has also commented during the continuing strikes this week. She said as Norwegian schools resumed after the summer break on Monday: “This is a legal strike which follows the rules of professional life. This means that the government doesn't have the possibility of stopping the strike. This would entail breaking Norwegian law. It is up to the involved parties to find a solution.”