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Norway teachers to step up strike action

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Norway teachers to step up strike action
Ragnild Lied, head of the Union of Education Norway and Per Kristian Sundnes, head of negotiation for KS, talk with press in Oslo after another failed meeting between the parties. Photo: Vegard Wivest
12:55 CEST+02:00
The teachers' union will ask 850 more teachers to strike, bring the total of teachers striking in Norway to 9,000, it was announced on Wednesday.

The Union of Education Norway has requested the 850 teachers strike from Tuesday next week and have said to all involved to prepare for longterm disruption. The move is in reaction to a breakdown in talks with employment union KS's to reach resolve over the dispute over teachers' working conditions.

Ragnhild Lie, head of the Union of Education, said to NTB: “This is necessary in order to increase the pressure on KS and the municipalities so that we can get a good result and increase the chances to end the strike.”
 
Thirty-one more schools and five more municipalities will be affected by the strike. The schools affected are in Kongsvinger, Nøtterøy, Randaberg, Orkdal and Østre Toten.
 
The Union of Education has protected the youngest pupils from 1st to 4th grade during the action which began over two weeks ago. The union has promised to continue this in the forthcoming action too.
 
Lied said: “It hasn't been easy, but we managed it also during the current strike.”
 
She added: “Even though this is a significant outtake, it is not so large that it will give reason for speculation on compulsory arbitration.”
 
If the strike goes on for a long time more, Norwegian municipalities will be able to save half-a-billion kroners during the strike. This money will not necessarily go back into schools, but could be used in other parts of the local governments' budgets.
 
Stand-in teacher Tom Eirik Ruud, 43, of Gulskogen school in Drammen said to Dagens Næringsliv: “When the municipalities save that much money, they are perhaps not interested in putting pressure on ending the strike.”
 
According to a survey conducted by NTB, around one third of the Norwegian population support the striking teachers. The majority do not sympathize.
 
Ragnhild Lied, reacting to the survey's finding, said to NTB that she understands the support shown.
 
Lied says: "It is interesting that the support is greatest in the age group containing many parents having school children. Maybe it’s due to the fact that they understand the teacher's need for the flexibility they have today in order to do a good job for the students.”
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