Norwegian government intervenes and ends Unio strike

Aina Skjefstad Andersen - UnioPhoto: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB
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On Friday, the Norwegian government intervened with compulsory arbitration in the municipal strike. 

On Friday, the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (H), decided to intervene and end the week-long strike due to fire danger at the processing and recycling plant Frevar in Fredrikstad.

On the same day, the government received a warning that there was an acute danger that the trash in the plant would ignite spontaneously and lead to a fire. Thus, Unio and KS were summoned to a meeting at 4 PM.

“No solution”

“The fire service has described the situation as very serious. At the meeting, it became clear that the parties would not find a solution to the issue,” Isaksen told news bureau NTB.

According to Isaksen, a fire at the plant could lead to danger to life and health, which is the only reason why the government intervenes in strikes.

“We do not want to intervene in strikes. It is legal to strike, and it is a key right,” he pointed out.

Since Thursday, May 27, municipal employees – including teachers and nurses – have been on strike throughout the country. More than 22,600 Unio members joined the strike in 16 municipalities and ten county municipalities in the KS area.

Hundreds of schools and kindergartens, health institutions, and other municipal enterprises have been affected.

Dispute over dispensations

According to the director of working life in KS, Tor Arne Gangsø, Fredrikstad municipality applied for a strike dispensation for the waste processing facility three times.

“Unio refused all three times. Unio is responsible for that,” he noted in a press release.

The leader of Unio kommune, Steffen Handal, rejected Gangsø’s claims.

“When we became aware that the situation was serious, we, of course, offered dispensations,” he told NTB.

Unio is also said to have asked KS for more measures to resolve the specific situation.

“Provocation”

“But KS would not agree. They were given the opportunity but chose to say no. It is a direct provocation,” Handal said.

When asked if KS could have done more to solve the case at the waste processing facility, Gangsø pointed out that Fredrikstad Municipality followed all the rules of the game.

“They applied for a dispensation three times, but Unio deliberately chose to refuse. The strike committee had ample opportunity to grant a dispensation,” he told NTB.

KS leader Bjørn Arild Gram, for his part, is very pleased that the strike has ended.

“A strike in the municipal sector will always affect the inhabitants. The fact that it is now over is especially important for students, patients, and others who have been affected,” he noted in a press release.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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