220 employees in Norway’s cultural sector go on strike; multiple performances are canceled

National Stage in BergenThe National Stage in Bergen. Photo: Marit Hommedal / NTB
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Disputes over pensions have led 220 employees in fields including opera, theater, and orchestra in Oslo, Bergen, and Stavanger to strike. Numerous performances are now canceled or postponed.

The mediation deadline was at midnight on Friday night, but an agreement was not reached on time. Cultural trade unions are now on strike: The National Stage (28 people), The Norwegian Opera & Ballet (54), The Norwegian Theater (25), The National Theater (2), Rogaland Theater (19), and Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (92).

Two performances at the Opera will be affected in the next few days. The ballet Kylian: One of a kind today was canceled, and tickets will be refunded. The concert “KORK 75 år” on Sunday, on the other hand, will be moved to Oslo Concert Hall, wrote the Norwegian Opera & Ballet in a press release.

Two other productions in the next few days will be carried out as planned. Audiences with tickets to performances next week will receive information as soon as the Opera knows more about the development.

Waterfall festival postponed

At Det Norske Teatret, Friday’s opening of the second international Waterfall Festival was postponed to Saturday. The festival was originally supposed to be held from 3 to 12 September – and the program will otherwise go as planned, the theater stated.

“The time for the strike comes at a bad time now that we are in the middle of the gradual reopening of the theater after the pandemic,” said theater director Erik Ulfsby.

Pensions are at the heart of the problem

The dispute is over the employees’ pension schemes.

“In fact, employers have been asking for this strike for many years. Now they have received it,” said Lise Olsen, deputy head of LO Stat and head of negotiations.

“I think everyone in the cultural sector had looked forward to seeing the audience again. When employers jump from their promises and throw people into strikes, it is should be criticized,” said deputy leader Odd Haldgeir Larsen in the Trade Union.

According to LO, in 2016, cultural employees agreed to a temporary pension scheme to ensure the finances and sustainability of the institutions. The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions claims that this happened in disagreement with the employers on a gender-specific pension scheme.

“Employers are adamant that we must accept a pension scheme where women and men receive different pension payments – in a sector where about half of the employees are women, and all had a gender-neutral and lifelong pension before 2016,” wrote LO Stat on its websites.

The employee side wants a hybrid pension.

“Incomprehensible”

The employers’ organization Spekter, for its part, regrets that the cultural offer to the public is now affected after a year and a half of strict restrictions, audience limitations, cancelations, and closures.

“It is incomprehensible that LO chooses to strike in theaters, orchestras, and operas to replace Norway’s best-defined contribution pension scheme with a scheme that the cultural institutions believe will be worse for the employees and freelancers. LO’s demands will also weaken the financial predictability of the cultural institutions,” said Spekter director Anne-Kari Bratten.

An escalation of the strike with a further 215 members has been announced from 8 September, when institutions in Kristiansand and Trondheim will also be included.

Source: ©️ NTB Scanpix / #NorwayTodayTravel

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1 Comment on "220 employees in Norway’s cultural sector go on strike; multiple performances are canceled"

  1. See what impact that has? I don’t think very much.

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