Strike could force more airport closures

As security personnel continue to strike, airport ground staff and flight technicians are considering joining their ranks this weekend, a move that could force several airports to close.

Almost 3,500 security guards have gone on strike since talks broke down last week between the Norwegian Union of General Workers and employer organization NHO Services.

Petter Furulund, director of NHO Service, believes the sides desperately need to get back to the negotiating table.  

“When lives don’t get saved because there are no security guards on the streets and when airlines are losing tens of millions of kroner, then it’s serious. The sides need to be forced together one way or another,” he told news agency NTB.

Union leader Erna Hagensen disputed the claim that the strike has endangered lives and said she would be willing to negotiate as soon as NHO was ready to present a new wage proposal.

”They can’t just keep saying no and at the same time hope for new talks,” said Hagensen.

While the security staff strike has led to queues and other problems at the country’s airpoirts, the situation for travellers could worsen considerably at the weekend if flight technicians, fire safety staff and other airport ground staff are called out on strike.

Unless a deal is reached by midnight on Friday, some 180 LO-affiliated employees of airport operator Avinor will go on strike, along with around 500 flight technicians from the independent Norsk Flytekniker Organisasjon.

A strike among Avinor workers could lead to airport closures at Ørsta/Volda, Førde, Brønnøysund, Ålesund, Harstad, Leknes and Kirkenes from Saturday morning. Stavanger’s Sola airport is likely to close on Monday unless the dispute is resolved.  

With no end to the dispute in sight, airlines are having to work hard to keep their passengers up to date on developments.

”We have brought in extra staff at our customer support centre and are working furiously to keep passengers updated and make alternative arrangements for those affected,” said Norwegian airlines spokesman  Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen.

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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