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Around 1,200 new staff were withdrawn from work on Thursday, taking the total number of workers on strike to over 3,000.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.
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.”
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.