Norway municipal sector strike ends

A far-reaching strike that has hit public services across Norway for the past 12 days ended on Tuesday night as unions and employers agreed on a new wage deal for municipal employees.

Norway municipal sector strike ends
Mediator Reidun Wallevik announces the strike is over. Behind her: union representatives Jan Davidsen, Fagforbundet, and Mimi Bjerkestrand, Unio (Photo: Terje Bendiksby/Scanpix)

In a deal that mirrored an agreement for state sector workers, municipal employees will receive a pay hike amounting to a total of 4.07 percent.

Four trade unions – LO Kommune, Unio, YS Kommune and Akademikerne – negotiated the deal that will give employees a general raise of 2.7 percent, or at least 12,000 kroner, a figure supplemented by higher holiday pay, as well further increases to be negotiated at the local level.   

The deal was at the ”outer limit” of what municipal employers could afford, according to Sigrun Vågeng, administrative director of municipal sector group KS.

”First and foremost though we are pleased that the conflict is over and citizens can again get access to the services they need,” she told news agency NTB after the deal was struck at 10pm on Tuesday.  

Unio’s chief negotiator Mimi Bjerkestrand took the opportunity to thank those who had gone out on strike. The industrial action had enabled labour groups to reach a deal they could recommend to their members, she said.

According to Unio, its members would see wages grow by around 20,000 kroner, a figure that would rise further after local additions.

”Society will derive benefits from the fact that it will now become easier to recruit nurses, pre-school teachers, teachers and other core groups in the municipal sector,” said Bjerkestrand.

Meanwhile, striking Oslo city employees also went back to work on Wednesday morning after labour unions signed off on a separate framework wage deal at 6am.

Some 1,300 municipal workers from five trade unions were set to return to their jobs after the city agreed to pay all city employees at least an extra 10,750 kroner. Some employees could see their annual wage packet swell still further depending on the outcome of local wage talks.

”The Oslo strike was important in that it ensured that Oslo city employees keep pace with the private sector this year and beyond,” said Martin Moen, a negotiator for the YS union.

One visible effect of the end of the strike was the return to work on Wednesday morning of rubbish collectors, who were to set about disposing of the garbage that has piled up since the start of the strike.

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Have Oslo’s new electric scooter rules reduced accidents?

New rules were brought in to combat the sharp rise in accidents and injuries involving electric scooters in Oslo. But, one month later, have the new regulations done the job?  

Have new rules had an impact on the number of accidents involving scooters in Oslo. Pictured it two e-scooters parked outside a

New rules brought in to cut down on the number of e-scooter accidents in Norway’s capital appear to have had the desired effect as incidents were more halved in September, when the rules were introduced, compared to the month before. 

This is according to figures from Oslo University Hospital’s (OUS) emergency department that have been obtained by newspaper Aftenposten

The Emergency Medical Service in Oslo registered 143 injuries in connection with electric scooters in September. In August, the month before measures were brought in, there were 301 injuries.’

Compared to the peak of accidents in June, where 436 injuries were recorded, incidents are down by almost two-thirds. 

“We are very happy. This is what we hoped for,” Henrik Siverts, chief physician at OUS’s emergency department, told the newspaper Aftenposten

‘We feared it would happen’: Oslo sees first death of electric scooter rider

Among the new stricter rules introduced for rental scooters, which included significantly cutting the number of devices in the city, was a curfew that prevented people from using them between 11pm and 5am. 

Siverts said that the curfew had a dramatic effect in reducing accidents at night. 

“Unsurprisingly, accidents have gone down at night time. What injuries we do get at night are probably people who privately own their scooters. But accidents have also gone down during the day, too,” he explained.  

Just eight injuries were recorded in September at night, compared to just under 100 in August. 

Over the summer, a surge in accidents meant accident and emergency departments in Oslo were forced to have more staff on during weekends. Still, as a result of the reduction in scooter accidents, staffing has now returned to normal. 

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