Union of Education Norway no longer on strike

In the conflict between Unio and KS, a compulsory wage board has been introduced.

Why a strike?

Head of bargaining from our part, our president Steffen Handal, states that there must be a significant increase in real wages and a promise that wages will continue to increase in the coming years. To obtain good services the municipalities must be able to recruit and retain qualified people for the professions on strike.

- There is a lack of both health personnel and teachers in the municipal sector, and KS is not able to solve this major societal problem, says chief negotiator Steffen Handal for Unio municipality.

Unio municipality demanded a significant real wage growth for its members this year, and the sketch from the broker was simply not enough.

Forced wage board

Saturday 6th June the Minister of Labour, Thorbjørn Røe Isaksen, introduced a compulsory wage board due to the risk of fire at a process plant in the city of Fredrikstad. Employees there had gone on strike. Handal stated that it would have been possible to find a solution, and that a dispensation was granted as soon as they understood the seriousness of the risk. According to working life director Tor Arne Gangsø dispensations had been denied by Unio three times, and thus Unio has itself to blame for the  forced wage board.

The strike in Oslo municipality ended Monday 7th June, when KS informed the head of bargaining for Unio Oslo municipality, Aina Skjefstad Andersen, that also in Oslo there will be a forced wage board. The reason is the fear of loosing lives and health risks for the citizens.

Indispensable expertise

The members who were on strike make an important contribution to society. Their tasks are complex and demanding and require a high level of competence and a long education. Without their indispensable expertise, Norway will stop. There must be a clear real wage growth and a plan for a further wage increase for the groups who were on strike. If this is not the case it will be impossible to recruit and retain qualified people for these professions.her employees with high competence and long education. This competence and education must now be recognized in terms of pay.

Handal continues to point out that the strike is for our common future, and for services we need throughout life from early childhood education to the end of our lives. The important issue is to be able to provide people with good services.

Steffen Handal in the t-shirt that marks the strike

Reality:

For the third year in a row, there is a significant decline in the application for teacher education. This applies to both ECEC teachers, primary school teachers and teachers in upper secondary school.

Figures from Statistics Norway show that 15 per cent of the man-years in primary and lower secondary schools are performed by people without teacher education. In upper secondary school, the proportion is 21 per cent.

In a survey from last autumn, half of the teachers who participated answered that they have applied for, or are considering applying for, other jobs outside the education system.

KS' own employer monitor shows that 3 out of 4 municipalities say that it is difficult to get enough nurses.

New figures from NAV, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, show that the health service as a whole lacks 7,000 nurses, an increase of 1,800 in just one year, and we know that the shortage is greatest in the municipalities.

Handal: Situation can become critical

- The wage level for university and college graduates must contribute to young people actually choosing to study for the municipality's welfare professions. There are major recruitment problems, and the situation can quickly become dramatic if less people apply and choose not to stay in these professions. Salary is one of several tools to solve this, says Handal.

All information about the strike can be found at unio.no.

Union of Education Norway, Norwegian Nurses Organisation, Norwegian Association of Researchers, Norwegian Physiotherapist Association, Norwegian Union of Marine Engineers, Norwegian Occupational Therapy Association, Union of University and College Graduates, The Norwegian Society of Radiographers, Norwegian Association of Clergy, Norwegian Union of Librarians, Norwegian Association of Deacons have members in KS ’collective bargaining area.

 

In total, Unio has 136,979 members in the area as of 1 January 2021. The largest groups are Union of Education Norway (94,591 members) and the Norwegian Nurses Organisation (34,764 members).

 

Steffen Handal (Union of Education Norway) is the negotiation leader in Unio municipality.