Coronavirus concerns raised over Norway’s ongoing bus strikes

Coronavirus concerns raised over Norway’s ongoing bus strikes
Illustration photo show a bus in Oslo. Photo: Wolfmann/Creative Commons
A wide-reaching bus strike in combination with increasing Covid-19 cases is creating concern amongst health services in Norway.

The strikes, which took place in several locations across the country over the weekend, are set to continue on Monday, Norwegian media including NRK report.

The national broadcaster has spoken to senior figures at the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, a city which recently saw an increase in cases and has also been hit by the escalation of the strikes.

READ ALSO: Why are bus drivers going on strike in Norway?

“We are obviously worried about the combination of Covid-19 and infection and a lack of bus transport in our area,” Haukeland Hospital CEO Eivind Hansen said to NRK.

Many people are likely to have to find other means of transport, leading to concerns as to whether appointments can be kept and employees can get to work.

“We hope to resolve this in the best possible way without any risk to health or similar,” Hansen said while also noting that strikes like that currently being undertaken by the bus drivers are a legal form of industrial action.

The hospital has encouraged both patients and staff to travel to the hospital by bicycle or on foot wherever possible, NRK writes.

Other forms of city transport, including trams, light rail, trains and metros, are unaffected by the bus driver strikes, which has given rise to concern about crowding on alternative public transport connections.

“It can get crowded on the light rail, and face masks must be used when that happens. You may have to wait until the next departure, so traffic is spread as much as possible,” Hansen said.

Bus drivers in Oslo and Viken went on strike on September 20th last week, followed by additional strikes of 4,500 bus drivers across the country this weekend. The strikes have so far not resulted in a compromise between drivers’ unions and employer organisations. The bus drivers are asking for an improvement in wages and other working conditions.

Large sections of public transport across the country are now affected.

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