Public Sector Workers demonstrate in Norway
Teachers joined other public sector workers in Norway to strike against cuts
Teachers and other public sector workers went on strike in Norway on May 24th, protesting at attempts to cut spending on education by pegging salaries - despite the fact that the Norwegian economy is thriving. Nonetheless, the government is using the world financial crisis as a pretext for its wage policy.
The teachers are members of the Union of Education Norway - an affiliate of Unio - the second largest union confederation in Norway. The strike is supported by Education International
who report on their website a statement from Unio:
"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.
"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.”
As well as the teachers, other public sector workers such as tax officials, carers in nursing homes and port pilots have been on strike. While public sector workers are having their pay capped at 3.5%, public sector chiefs have had increases of 18%. The average income for bosses of listed companies in which the state owns the largest share like Telenor and Statoil, is $1.4 million a year according to a report
on the website Newsinenglish.no.
Latest reports on the web indicate that the public sector strike was still ongoing at the beginning of this week.