2,200 teachers, from state and private schools, on Thursday joined the 5,500 already striking.
Norway's national education mediator Nils Dalseide on his way to a meeting with union officials. Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix.
The latest round of meetings to try to solve the conflict broke down.
Thousands of pupils and parents must prepare for disruption in the school work schedule from next week. In stepping up the strike, it will also involve teachers in elementary schools.
Per Kristian Sundnes, head of negotiation from the KS Union, said to NTB he believed that it is not his side's turn to put further suggestions on the table. He said: “Both parties have come forth with what they have already offered. It looks like we are heading towards 5,500 teachers on strike. But it is still possible to prevent thousands of students and parents being affected.”
Leader of the Union of Education Norway, Ragnhild Lied, said that the basis for an agreement wasn’t there on Thursday night and that a strike will therefore happen.
Lied said: “We tried and we tried, but didn't get any way with anything.”
She added: “The way I see it, there will hardly be an approach over the weekend unless KS puts something substantial on the table. And this is about more than the 7.5 hours of working hours at school that we were ridiculed for during the summer. This is about the whole trust relationship between KS and teachers, plus the opportunity to give the students flexible teaching, according to their needs.”
Before summer this year, the majority of the Union of Education Norway voted “no” to a working hour contract for teachers that the union had agreed upon earlier with the municipal sector organization (KS).
The Union of Education Norway then took out 36 teachers at Rothaugen school in Bergen on the 1st of June. From 11th of August 5,500 teachers were put on strike on all levels, except elementary schools.
The crucial point in the minimum wage contract that the Union of Education Norway contended is that teachers are obligated to work at the school up to 7.5 hours daily, instead of being able to work from home during parts of the working hours, as they are allowed to do currently. KS however rejected that this has ever been a demand from their side.
The newly elected chairman of the Norwegian Labour Party, Jonas Gahr Støre, held a demonstration at Arendal Square only a couple of hours after the same square was filled up by protesting teachers.
Støre said during his protest: “It is a serious problem in our society that there is a break of trust between the teachers and their employers, and that the teachers are doubting whether they really have the place in society.”
He also said: “We can ascertain that there is a failure of trust. Everyone of us should reflect to ourselves. Teachers have experienced for several years that they have been spoken highly of. But at the same time, they say that they are met by demands on more reporting, more bureaucracy, more workload. We then have to ask what we are doing about it. How can we see to it that a teacher can be a teacher?”
During his speech, he asked all political parties to gather together and agree about creating a good schooling sytem, instead of starting a fresh conflict about privatization.