UPDATE: What parents need to know about the kindergarten strike in Norway

A new wave of walkouts on Thursday saw 1,200 more Norwegian kindergarten staff head out on strike. Here's what parents need to know.

Toddler playing
If there is no progress in negotiations between the parties, the strike is likely to be escalated on Thursday. Photo by Troy T / Unsplash

On Thursday, the Fagforbundet (Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees), Utdanningsforbundet (The Education Association) and Delta unions escalated the private kindergarten staff strike by withdrawing more members from the work force.

Around 1,200 new staff were withdrawn from work on Thursday, taking the total number of workers on strike to over 3,000. Some 100 or so more staff will join the strike from Monday. 

The labour dispute involves the trade unions and the National Association of Private Kindergartens (PBL) employer organization, which organizes 2,066 of the country’s 2,881 private kindergartens and employs over 36,000 workers. As of Thursday, unions and the PBL appear no closer to resolving the dispute. 

Pension dispute

The dispute which triggered the strike is primarily about pensions, as employees believe that the PBL is shirking its pension responsibilities – mainly a transition to the joint scheme for agreed pensions (AFP) from next year.

“We are very disappointed that the employer does not want to keep its promise to introduce lifelong AFP for our members in private kindergartens, as municipal and other private kindergartens have done.

“This is a strike for which the PBL must take full responsibility,” a statement from the employee side noted after the negotiation breakdown.

Contractual pension (AFP) in the private sector is a pension scheme where persons employed in a private company have a collective agreement that has an AFP contractual pension as part of the agreement. This pension comes in addition to the national insurance retirement pension. You can find more information on the associated rights on the NAV’s website.

On the other hand, the PBL says that it hasn’t made any fixed promise in relation to AFP.

“The PBL has not given any promise that kindergartens will enter the joint scheme for AFP,” communications director Marius Iversen at PBL stated.

Furthermore, the managing director at the PBL, Jørn-Tommy Schjelderup, described the developments as “surprising and very regrettable,” adding that the unions are going on strike after putting forward “completely unrealistic demands.”

Fresh talks

On Wednesday, the parties involved in the strike held a fresh round of talks. However, unions and employer organisations are still some way from agreeing a deal to end the strike.  

“The parties have spoken today. We think that is positive. But the talks have so far not led to any results or to a real mediation,” PBL negotiator Espen Rokkan said in a press release

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UK warns arrivals from Europe to ‘expect delays’ due to border force strike

The UK government has warned that people arriving into the country from Europe over Christmas should expect delays and disruption as border guards go on strike from Friday.

UK warns arrivals from Europe to 'expect delays' due to border force strike

The UK Border Force begins a strike on Friday, December 23rd, that is expected to cause major delays and disruption at airports and some ports.

Travellers were warned in a statement: “While the government is taking action to minimise disruption, travellers due to arrive in the UK over the Christmas period are warned to expect delays and disruption over the strike action affecting border control.

“Passengers should be prepared for longer wait times and should check with their travel agents, tour operators and airlines/carriers about possible disruptions to their journey prior to travelling.

“Our eGates will continue to function as per normal and we encourage all those eligible to use them to do so, as the quickest and most efficient way to pass through border control.”

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents the majority of border staff at airports, has called a strike between December 23rd and 31st, not including December 27th.

READ ALSO Do UK border strikes affect ferries, trains and the Channel Tunnel?

It is part of a wave of strikes hitting the UK as workers including nurses, paramedics, postal staff and rail workers strike for pay rises to help them cope with the soaring cost of living.

The disruption is expected to be concentrated at airports, although the ferry port of Newhaven is also affected, and is likely to lead to extremely long queues at passport control – some are predicting waits of up to 10 hours.

Affected sites are; Birmingham Airport, Cardiff Airport, Gatwick Airport, Glasgow Airport, Heathrow Airport – Terminals 2,3,4,5, Manchester Airport and Port of Newhaven.

It could also cause some flight cancellations and delays if passengers are not able to disembark at UK airports – travellers are advised to check with their airline before going to the airport.

The UK government has drafted in some members of the military to help run passport control, but this is likely to be a very limited service. 

Those travelling to the UK should also be aware of significant disruption on the railways, also due to strike action. 

You can find full details of travel between France and the UK HERE, or head to Local sites in Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Austria and Denmark for the latest on travel.