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Norway public sector workers go on strike

Norway public sector workers were called out on strike on Thursday after salary negotiations broke down, affecting schools, day care centres and prisons.

Norway public sector workers go on strike

Thursday's strike action is the first in three decades by public sector workers in the country. 

Up to 30,000 of Norway's 600,000 state and municipal employees were taking part in the strike, according to a tally by the NTB news agency. That number was expected to increase unless the different unions can reach wage settlements with central and local governments.
 
According to NTB, the strike was the first in 28 years involving state employees in Norway, an oil-rich country of around 4.7 million people.
 
"I am disappointed and think it is a shame that an agreement could not be reached through negotiations," Administration Minister Rigmor Aasrud said in a statement.
 
She insisted that Norway's left-leaning government had proposed wage hikes that "would have ensured a significant purchasing power increase to all state employees," offering to increase salaries by 3.75 percent.
 
The different unions however had demanded that their members receive the same increase as in the private sector, which they said was nearly 4.3 percent.
 
"The government cuts us off with worse wage development than for employees in the private sector. That is unreasonable," Arne Johannessen, chief negotiator for the Unio union representing teachers and day care workers, said in a statement.
 
Some 8,500 of Unio's members were taking part in the strike, affecting schools and day care facilities across the country, except for in Oslo, where negotiations continued.
 
Norway's main union, LO, also criticised state and municipal governments for failing to agree to "fair demands for wage development on a par with the rest of the workforce."
 
"A strike could therefore not be avoided," LO chief Roar Flaathen said in a statement.
 
Some 10,000 of LO's members did not show up for work Thursday, affecting among others municipal administrations, traffic and harbour authorities.
 
Police, customs authorities and prisons were also affected, forcing for instance all prisoners at one prison to be transferred to other facilities, NTB reported.

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TRONDHEIM

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday 

Find out what’s going on in Norway on Thursday with The Local’s short roundup of important news.

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday 
Oslo Operahus. Photo by Arvid Malde on Unsplash

Strikes could affect vulnerable children 

Municipal strikes among teachers and nurses could impact vulnerable children, the children’s ombudsmen has said. 

“I am concerned about the overall consequences that the strike and the pandemic may have on children and young people. The students bear a disproportionately large part of the burden, which increases each passing day,” Inga Bejer Engh, children’s ombud, told press agency NTB. 

Municipal workers have been on strike since last week when mediation talks between union Unio and municipalities over wage settlements broke down. 

Cases of Delta Covid variant detected in Trondheim

There have been 11 potential cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19, which is believed to have originated in India, in Trondheim, Central Norway. 

“We have done a partial genome sequencing and have identified 11 cases of the Indian variant in Trondheim. We are 99 percent sure that it is the Indian variant we are dealing with,” Chief Physician at St Olav’s Hospital told local news site Nidaros.

According to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, there have been 55 cases of the Delta strain detected in Norway. 

On Tuesday, coronavirus measures in Trondheim were tightened for the second time in a week. 

New quarantine hotel rules 

From today, anyone who has received their first coronavirus jab in Norway, at least three weeks before their arrival, and those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the country in the last six months will not be forced into quarantine hotels when they arrive in Norway.

READ MORE: Norway eases Covid hotel quarantine rules

Travellers arriving in Norway who were vaccinated in foreign countries will still have to enter quarantine hotels.

The scheme will be in place until Norway’s full “coronavirus certificate” is released on June 11th.

READ MORE: NEW: Norway to launch full version of digital ‘Covid certificate’ 

Norway to provide poorer countries with 1 million extra Coronavirus vaccines 

Norway has said it will provide an extra one million Covid-19 vaccine doses to low-income countries through the equitable access Covax scheme. 

Led by organisations including UNICEF, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Covax aims to offer equal access to vaccines for all countries. The scheme is primarily funded by wealthy Western countries, with the EU having pledged €500 million as of November 2020.

The Nordic country had previously provided poorer countries with the option to secure 700,000 vaccine doses through the scheme. 

READ MORE: Why Norway turned down the chance to order nearly 700,000 Covid-19 vaccines

353 new Covid-19 cases in Norway 

On Wednesday, 353 new cases of coronavirus were registered in Norway. This is eight cases more than the seven-day average of 345. 

In the capital, Oslo, 128 new Covid cases were registered in the city. Cases have risen sharply in recent days and yesterday’s figures represent an increase of 69 on the seven-day average. 

The R-number or reproduction rate in Norway is currently 1.0. This means that every ten people that are infected will, on average, only infect another ten people, indicating that the infection level is stable.

Number of reported Covid-19 cases. Source: NIPH
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