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SAS ‘reaches deal’ with pilots to end strike

Airline SAS and striking pilots reached an agreement on Monday night to bring an end to the strike that has seen hundreds of flights cancelled in recent days, according to reports. However the airline later said that more work was needed to finalise the deal.

Pictured
SAS pilots say an agreement hasn't been reached. A SAS plane approaches Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand AFP.

Representatives of pilots unions and the airline SAS spoke to the press on Monday about an agreement being reached and the strike ending. 

“We have a deal, all that remains now is to get the last signatures on paper,” Carsten Dilling, the airline’s chair, told Sweden’s Dagens Industri newspaper before SAS said that talks were continuing.

“What I’m hearing from the negotiation room is that we have a deal,” a spokesperson for Dansk Metal, one of the unions representing SAS pilots, told Reuters, adding the agreement was not yet finalised.

However later on Monday SAS released a statement denying that any deal had been finalised.

“Due to the speculation in the media, SAS wants to clarify that no agreement has yet been signed between the two parties. The mediation process continues,” the airline wrote on its website after several reports emerged that the company and pilots had agreed to end the strike. 

“While the mediation has moved in the right direction, no agreement has yet been signed,” the airline said.

But news reports suggest that the deal is all but done but that it wasn’t good news for pilots.

Levi Skogvang, chair of the Norwegian pilots union, told the Dagbladet newspaper that he was not pleased with the five-year agreement that had been made, but that it was good enough to bring the strike to an end.

“It’s a tragedy for the pilots, looked at solely on the basis of their contracts, but it’s good that we’re done and that we can get the planes up in the air again,” he told the newspaper.

“We have not managed to negotiate an improvement in our terms, but only got worse terms. It’s not a nice thing to do. The only thing that is nice is that we have a deal, and that we can get the planes up in the air again.” 

According to Norway’s state broadcaster NRK, under the deal, the pilots have agreed not to go on strike or seek higher pay for five years, and in return, the 560 pilots who were laid off during the pandemic will be given back their jobs. 

Newspaper VG reports that Aleksander Wasland, leader of the Norwegian Pilots’ Association, had told NRK that 450 pilots got their jobs back, before the comment was later officially withdrawn by the broadcaster. 

A majority of SAS pilots in Sweden, Denmark and Norway walked out on July 4 triggering a strike that SAS has said cost it between $94 million and $123 million a day, Reuters reported.

The strike also coincides with the busy summer season in northern Europe, normally a time for airlines to cash in on holidaymakers.

The Local will update this story as we get more information.

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STRIKES

Norwegian government forces teachers’ strike to an end

Teachers in Norway returned to work on Wednesday following a lengthy strike due to the Norwegian government forcing industrial action over wages to an end.

Norwegian government forces teachers' strike to an end

Norway’s government has ended the teachers’ strike and forced unions and The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) to a compulsory wage board.

“Unfortunately, the parties have not found a solution to the conflict. The strike is now leading to serious societal consequences for children and young people. I am particularly concerned about the pupils’ education, vulnerable children and young people and their mental health. After an overall assessment, I have therefore proposed a compulsory wage board,” Labour and Inclusion Minister Marte Mjøs Persen said in a statement.

Teachers decided to strike in June over wage growth in recent years. Unions said teachers had been the wage losers of collective bargaining agreements between KS and the public sector for the last six years.

KS maintained throughout the strike that it did not have the funds available that teachers were demanding. Around 8,500 teachers were on strike before the government brought industrial action to an end.

Over the past few weeks, several organisations called on the government to end the strike in the interest of students’ well-being.

Typically, strikes aren’t referred to the compulsory wage board in Norway unless there is a threat to public health.

Last week, unions met with KS and mediators, but the parties were unable to break through the deadlock.

“It is deeply regrettable that the government has chosen to intervene with a compulsory wage board. They now assume a great deal of responsibility for what has been the basis of the conflict,” Steffen Handal from the Norwegian Education Association said of the government’s decision.

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