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STRIKES

What the SAS strike means for travellers in Norway

900 pilots from airline SAS are set to hold strike action after the company and the pilots' unions failed to reach an agreement before Monday afternoon's deadline. Here's how it affects travel from Norway.

An SAS flight landing.
This is what a potential pilot strike means for passengers in Norway. Pictured: An aircraft of Scandinavian Airlines SAS lands at Copenhagen Airport Photo by Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP.

Scandinavian airline SAS and pilots’ unions in Norway, Denmark and Sweden have failed to reach an agreement to prevent a strike, meaning 900 pilots will go on strike this week.

“How on earth is a strike in the busiest week of the last two-and-a-half years going to help us find and attract investors,” SAS chief executive Anko van der Werff told reporters, criticising what he called a “strike culture” among pilots.

SAS and unions had set a deadline of midday Monday to strike a deal. The strike comes after the two parties agreed to extend the deadline for talks several times in the hopes of coming to an agreement.

The pilots are employed by SAS’s parent company, SAS Scandinavia, and announced strike action because they are unsatisfied with their salary and working conditions.

“We deeply regret that our customers are affected by this strike, leading to delays and cancelled flights,” van der Werff said in a statement.

SAS offers passengers the opportunity to rebook

Passengers can rebook equivalent flights for free and are advised to check whether their flight will be affected, SAS said in updated information issued on its website.

“As a precaution SAS offers passengers booked on SAS flights between July 4th – July 9th 2022 the option of rebooking the ticket, free of charge. Passengers can rebook to a SAS flight on another date, within the next 360 days, to the same destination if the same service class as the original ticket is available,” the airline said.

To see if their flight is likely to be affected, passengers are advised to check the status of their flight on the SAS website. Rebookings can be made via the “My Bookings” section.

Passengers who booked their ticket via a travel agent or tour operator should contact them directly, SAS said.

Rebooking may take longer than usual, especially for passengers contacting the airline over the phone. However, the airline also said that there were waiting times for its chat service too.

“SAS apologizes for the unusually long waiting times right now on chat and phone and are doing everything we can to assist our customers,” it said.

400 pilots in Norway to strike

Of the more than 900 pilots that will strike, 402 are based in Norway, according to an estimate provided by Roger Klokset of the Norwegian SAS Pilots’ Association given to broadcaster TV2.

Some 30,000 SAS passengers could be affected per day, the airline said. Meanwhile, Swedish newswire TT reports 45,000 passengers could be disrupted each day.

Up to 60 percent of departures from Norwegian airports between Monday and Thursday could be cancelled, according to newspaper VG. This equates to around 585 of 963 flights to and from Norway before Friday.

Flights from SAS subsidiaries, SAS Connect, SAS Link, Cityjet Xfly and Air Baltic are unlikely to be directly affected by the pilot strike. 

Cityjet is responsible for many of SAS’s regional flights in Norway, including daily departures between Oslo and Bergen and flights from Oslo to Ålesund. 

Travellers can check the status of their flight and the likelihood of it being cancelled here.

What are passengers rights? 

Passengers whose tickets are cancelled will have some rights under EU legislation. These include the right to choose between getting your money back, getting the next available flight, or changing the booking completely for a later date. 

You are also entitled to assistance free of charge, including refreshments, food, accommodation (if you are rebooked to travel the next day), transport, and communication (two telephone calls, for example). This is regardless of the reasons for cancellation.

EU air passenger rights apply to you if your flight is within the EU or Schengen zone, if it arrives in the EU/Schengen zone from outside the bloc and is operated by an EU-based airline, or if it departs from the EU/ Schengen zone.

READ MORE: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

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STRIKES

Teachers’ strike in Norway could escalate when new school year starts

The new school year in Norway could be marked by an escalation of a teachers' strike, which could see education professionals across the country join teachers in Bergen already on strike. 

Teachers' strike in Norway could escalate when new school year starts

A dispute over pay and wage growth could see teachers nationwide strike at the beginning of the new school year in Norway, public broadcaster NRK reports. 

“We have made a plan. I cannot reveal where, when and how many people will be affected by a strike. But it is only natural to imagine that an escalation will take place in connection with the start of school,” Steffen Handal, head of the Norwegian Education Association, told NRK. 

Currently, 40 teachers in Bergen are already on strike over wages. Handal says teachers have been the wage losers in the public sector’s last six collective bargaining agreements. 

“We are struggling to recruit and retain teachers. KS has made the teachers wage losers for the sixth year in a row. This is a policy that drives people out of the teaching profession,” Handal said. 

In May, the National Association of Schools, the Norwegian Association of Lecturers and the Norwegian Education Association came out against the deal, which the public sector accepted as a whole. 

KS, the organisation which negotiates collective bargaining agreements with the public sector, has warned that there isn’t really any room for negotiation. 

READ ALSO: How easy is it to work as an English teacher in Norway?

“The money has been used up,” Tor Arne Gangsø, director of labour at KS, told NRK. 

Kristine Nergaard, a researcher with Fafo, which researchers working life, warned that the strike has the potential to drag on once it escalates. 

“I think that it will last for at least two to three weeks from the time of escalation. Maybe more. It will also be difficult to manage this strike against the compulsory wage board,” Nergaard told union news site Utdanningsnytt.no.

The researcher added that unions could take the same approach as in 2014 when 7,000 teachers were on strike at the beginning of the new school year. 

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