When an LO confederation is on strike, it is not unusual for the leader of the LO to meet with the strikers and thus contribute to pressure on the employers’ side in the ongoing conflict.
But during the teachers’ strike, LO president Peggy Hessen Følsvik remained completely silent. This is despite the Swedish Confederation of Norwegian Schools joining the teachers’ strike. Since Monday, 107 members of SL have gone on strike.
– Følsvik tells NRK that in the municipal sector, you are in a special situation where one of LO’s unions has said no to a negotiated decision that all the other unions have accepted.
A shared vision
When asked if he supported the strike and why he had not publicly expressed clear support for LO members in the National Schools Association, he replied:
– The teacher unions’ strike demand violates the supply profile desired by other unions. In view of that, the LO leaves the right to the union to comment on the strike.
If the strike among teachers continues, it will affect the entire collective agreement in the municipal sector, says the LO leader. The settlement ended with an agreement this spring, excluding teachers.
– Unions that have already ratified the decision can request a renegotiation, says Folsvik.
Supported by Unio
The largest union organizing teachers, Uddanningsforbundet, does not belong to LO, but to the main body, Unio.
And Unio leader Rocknhild Light, for her part, has no problem expressing clear support for striking teachers. He has done this in many public events.
– Why do you think the leader of LO is silent about this strike?
– I think you should ask her yourself. As Unio leader, I have supported our largest union, Uddanningsforbundet. Statistics reported by KS Thane to the Technical Accounting Board (TBU) show that teachers have less salary development over time than other groups in municipalities, Lied says.
No union support
In municipal settlement, six different LO confederations negotiate under the LO-commune umbrella. As elsewhere the largest is the union.
The union’s powerful leader, Mette Nord, won’t be interviewed about the teachers’ strike now, but when the conflict became real in May, he said he did not support the strike.
– No, I don’t support the strike because I hope we got a good distribution for everyone. Nord told NRK on May 24 that if someone wants to get more, someone else has to get less.
All organizations in the municipal settlement, close to the three teachers’ organizations Uddanningsforbundet, the Norwegian Teachers’ Union and the National Schools Association, later accepted the mediator’s interpretation as a solution.
– Følsvik, is Is your public lack of support for the teachers associated with the strike met with union opposition?
– “I relate that all the unions, big and small, in the municipal sector have agreed to a negotiated settlement that provides a good supply profile,” says the LO leader.
Like the larger union, the Norwegian Nurses Union also reached an agreement this time with employer KS.
When NRK union leader Lil Sverestätter asked Larsen if he supported the teachers’ strike, he replied:
– A strike is a legal means of struggle and, like any trade union, we are concerned with the right to strike for our own pay and working conditions. NSF therefore respects the wish of teacher organizations to go on strike.
– What message do you have for striking teachers and boss KS?
– KS should solve recruitment problems in public sector in general. It is their responsibility. To the editors, last night I sent a virtual hand on Handel’s shoulder. A strike is difficult for all parties.
– If the teachers win and the conflict ends, will the nurses’ union demand a resumption of negotiations or will it demand that the teachers be given due credit in the upcoming settlement?
– NSF is constantly working on developing the salary solution and what is happening around us can also influence our ratings and requirements.
Caution Against Compulsory Wage Boards
The question of what steps the government is going to take to end the teachers’ strike through the Compulsory Wage Board has been strongly raised recently.
LO criticized the previous government for frequent use of compulsory wage boards. When NRK asked Becky Hessen Folsvik what message she would send to the government in the current climate, she responded as follows:
– On the question of Compulsory Wage Board, I did not see that anyone from the Government side spoke. I have no opinion on that.
Unio leader Rocknhild Light goes further than her LO counterpart here:
– Compulsory Wage Boards are an encroachment on the right to strike, which we have often experienced. Most recently last year. The Norwegian Education Association is clear about granting exceptions when there is a basis for it.
The Nurses Association has also issued a warning.
– The NSF criticizes the use of compulsory wage boards and argues that the system should be reconsidered, says Lil Sverresdatter Larsen.
However, she worries that the strike will affect an innocent third party, the students.
– Unions have a tradition of protecting the most vulnerable groups. But it is clear that it is already affecting students who have been hit hard during the pandemic.
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