Education International
Education International

Educators join public sector strike in Norway

published 5 June 2012 updated 8 June 2012

The Union of Education Norway (UEN), one of EI national affiliate, has joined in a strike action in defence of quality public services, as well as decent salaries and working conditions for public sector workers.

UEN is the largest member organisation in Unio, Norway’s second largest trade union confederation.  Unio, whose affiliates mostly consist of public sector employees, has embarked on major strike action after salary negotiations with state and municipal authorities failed.

Norwegian educators have joined the struggle initiated by their colleagues and other public employees to secure decent wages and working conditions, in the face of government cuts in public service budgets, using the economic and financial crisis as an excuse.

“We extend our hands in solidarity. The struggle is a collective one - we are together striving for reasonable wages and decent working conditions,” said UEN President Mimi Bjerkestrand.

In a message published on 31 May in major newspapers across the country, Unio states:

“A formidable challenge facing our country is how to attract competent personnel to the teaching profession.  Without skilled public employees at both state and local government levels, the Norwegian population will not have access to quality public services. The recruitment and retention of a well-trained, highly skilled public sector workforce require that public employees are paid wages proportionate with their skills and qualifications. This may appear costly at first but this represents in fact a wise investment.”

It goes on to deplore that “the Norwegian government has presented an offer that will further widen the wage gap between the private and public sectors and thereby make it even more difficult to attract competent personnel to the public sector. Such a situation does not bode well for the Norwegian welfare system. This is what Unio seeks to avert.  Our demands are reasonable; we are asking for a fair wage settlement. This is why our wages must be increased.”

The Director of EI’s European region (ETUCE), Martin Rømer, stated that: “We wish to reiterate that there are alternatives to austerity measures; education is part of the solution to this long-lasting economic crisis which was not created by working people; it is, therefore, wrong to let only working people pay the bill and to scapegoat public service workers.”

“We are in solidarity with and support our Norwegian affiliate’s demands and urge Norwegian authorities to engage in a dialogue with public sector trade unions to guarantee quality public services and education,” he added.

To learn more about the ETUCE Action and Campaign Framework, please click here

More information on the impact of the financial and economic crisis on education worldwide are available on the EI Education in Crisis website.