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Signs of imminent agreement as Scandinavian airline SAS and pilots negotiate overnight: analyst

Scandinavian airline SAS and pilots unions continued overnight talks on Sunday, but one aviation analyst believes the parties may be close to reaching an agreement to end the pilots strike, which entered its 14th day on Sunday.

An SAS plane approaches Arlanda airport
The current pilot strike in Denmark, Sweden and Norway could sink SAS, the company has warned. File photo: A SAS plane approaches Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm. Photo by Jonathan Naclstrand / AFP.

“When you negotiate as intensively as the parties are now, you must expect that you start to approach a result,” said Sydbank aviation analyst Jacob Pedersen, Danish newswire Ritzau reported.

Previously, negotiations were put on hold at night and resumed the following day, but this time, the parties saw reason to continue negotiations overnight and into Sunday morning.

This indicated that an agreement could be imminent, Pedersen said, although he said he could not predict a timeline for this.

“I have no other good suggestions other than it must be close. Whether it will be Sunday, Monday or maybe Tuesday is more of an open question,” he added.

About 1,000 SAS pilots from Denmark, Norway and Sweden have been on strike since Monday, July 4th when talks over conditions related to the airline’s rescue plan broke down. In recent days, negotiations have resumed.

The pilots are protesting against salary cuts demanded by management as part of a restructuring plan aimed at ensuring the survival of the company, and the firm’s decision not to re-hire pilots laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Axed pilots have had to compete against external applicants for jobs at SAS subsidiaries SAS Link and SAS Connect on less favourable terms than at the main airline SAS Scandinavia.

SAS is in major financial difficulties, exacerbated by the pandemic, and is working to implement a cost-saving plan called SAS Forward to provide annual savings in the billions of Swedish krona.

According to Pedersen, it is crucial for SAS to reach an agreement soon.

“This strike must end as quickly as possible for SAS,” he said, explaining that they were losing money quickly and that their reputation with leisure travellers was also suffering huge damage.

“It’s important to get the planes in the air as soon as possible,” he added.

The strike has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day,  with 62 percent of SAS’ scheduled flights cancelled on Sunday, according to flight-tracking platform FlightAware. 

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Teachers’ strike in Norway could escalate when new school year starts

The new school year in Norway could be marked by an escalation of a teachers' strike, which could see education professionals across the country join teachers in Bergen already on strike. 

Teachers' strike in Norway could escalate when new school year starts

A dispute over pay and wage growth could see teachers nationwide strike at the beginning of the new school year in Norway, public broadcaster NRK reports. 

“We have made a plan. I cannot reveal where, when and how many people will be affected by a strike. But it is only natural to imagine that an escalation will take place in connection with the start of school,” Steffen Handal, head of the Norwegian Education Association, told NRK. 

Currently, 40 teachers in Bergen are already on strike over wages. Handal says teachers have been the wage losers in the public sector’s last six collective bargaining agreements. 

“We are struggling to recruit and retain teachers. KS has made the teachers wage losers for the sixth year in a row. This is a policy that drives people out of the teaching profession,” Handal said. 

In May, the National Association of Schools, the Norwegian Association of Lecturers and the Norwegian Education Association came out against the deal, which the public sector accepted as a whole. 

KS, the organisation which negotiates collective bargaining agreements with the public sector, has warned that there isn’t really any room for negotiation. 

READ ALSO: How easy is it to work as an English teacher in Norway?

“The money has been used up,” Tor Arne Gangsø, director of labour at KS, told NRK. 

Kristine Nergaard, a researcher with Fafo, which researchers working life, warned that the strike has the potential to drag on once it escalates. 

“I think that it will last for at least two to three weeks from the time of escalation. Maybe more. It will also be difficult to manage this strike against the compulsory wage board,” Nergaard told union news site Utdanningsnytt.no.

The researcher added that unions could take the same approach as in 2014 when 7,000 teachers were on strike at the beginning of the new school year. 

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