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SAS ‘reaches deal’ with pilots to end strike

Airline SAS and striking pilots reached an agreement on Monday night to bring an end to the strike that has seen hundreds of flights cancelled in recent days, according to reports. However the airline later said that more work was needed to finalise the deal.

Pictured
SAS pilots say an agreement hasn't been reached. A SAS plane approaches Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand AFP.

Representatives of pilots unions and the airline SAS spoke to the press on Monday about an agreement being reached and the strike ending. 

“We have a deal, all that remains now is to get the last signatures on paper,” Carsten Dilling, the airline’s chair, told Sweden’s Dagens Industri newspaper before SAS said that talks were continuing.

“What I’m hearing from the negotiation room is that we have a deal,” a spokesperson for Dansk Metal, one of the unions representing SAS pilots, told Reuters, adding the agreement was not yet finalised.

However later on Monday SAS released a statement denying that any deal had been finalised.

“Due to the speculation in the media, SAS wants to clarify that no agreement has yet been signed between the two parties. The mediation process continues,” the airline wrote on its website after several reports emerged that the company and pilots had agreed to end the strike. 

“While the mediation has moved in the right direction, no agreement has yet been signed,” the airline said.

But news reports suggest that the deal is all but done but that it wasn’t good news for pilots.

Levi Skogvang, chair of the Norwegian pilots union, told the Dagbladet newspaper that he was not pleased with the five-year agreement that had been made, but that it was good enough to bring the strike to an end.

“It’s a tragedy for the pilots, looked at solely on the basis of their contracts, but it’s good that we’re done and that we can get the planes up in the air again,” he told the newspaper.

“We have not managed to negotiate an improvement in our terms, but only got worse terms. It’s not a nice thing to do. The only thing that is nice is that we have a deal, and that we can get the planes up in the air again.” 

According to Norway’s state broadcaster NRK, under the deal, the pilots have agreed not to go on strike or seek higher pay for five years, and in return, the 560 pilots who were laid off during the pandemic will be given back their jobs. 

Newspaper VG reports that Aleksander Wasland, leader of the Norwegian Pilots’ Association, had told NRK that 450 pilots got their jobs back, before the comment was later officially withdrawn by the broadcaster. 

A majority of SAS pilots in Sweden, Denmark and Norway walked out on July 4 triggering a strike that SAS has said cost it between $94 million and $123 million a day, Reuters reported.

The strike also coincides with the busy summer season in northern Europe, normally a time for airlines to cash in on holidaymakers.

The Local will update this story as we get more information.

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STRIKES

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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