Tonje Brenna meets the parties in the teachers’ strike

Tonje Brenna meets the parties in the teachers’ strike
Tonje Brenna meets the parties in the teachers’ strike

Education Minister Tonje Brenna (Ap) is in a meeting with the parties in the teachers’ strike on Friday. The Ombudsman will contact the parties on Friday afternoon to find out if they want to participate in negotiations.

Education Minister Tonje Brenna (Ap) is worried about the children who lose schooling. Now she is calling in the parties in the teachers’ strike. Photo: Javad Parsa, NTB

23 Sep 2022 13:10

Last updated 31 minutes ago

Over 8,000 teachers have been taken out in what is the longest teachers’ strike of all time. Some children have not been to school since the summer holidays.

The conflict is completely deadlocked between the teachers and the employer, KS.

Now the Minister of Education is taking action and calling the parties to a meeting on Friday at 2 p.m. This is what the Ministry of Education tells Aftenposten.

The Minister of State and the Ombudsman are now trying to avoid the state having to intervene with a so-called compulsory wage board.

The national mediator confirms that he will contact the parties this afternoon to find out if they will submit to new negotiations.

– I have had a meeting with Brenna and talked to her about the situation. Afterwards, I want to hear whether there is a basis for the parties to meet, says national mediator Mats Wilhelm Ruland to Aftenposten.

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– Now we will talk to the minister. Beyond that, I have no comment, says KS director Tor Arne Gangsø on his way into the meeting with the minister.

When asked if he wants to meet the Ombudsman, he replies as follows:

– If the Ombudsman invites us to a meeting, we will of course attend.

– We are excited about what is to come, and hope that there will not be a forced wage board, says Mette Johnsen Walker, confederation leader of the National Association of Schools.

The Ombudsman: – Sad

The parties met at the Riksmekleren last weekend – in vain. The leader of the Education Association, Steffen Handal, left the meeting after just over two hours.

After this it has been quiet.

– None of the parties have signaled that they want to meet. I will not take new initiatives until the parties themselves ask for it, says Ruland to Aftenposten.

– What do you think about this conflict?

– It is sad. It is the responsibility of the parties to resolve this. This is a conflict that has been going on for a long time. Children down to primary school age are now affected, he replies.

– The conflict is not resolved by referring to the other party. Here, both parties have to give in order to reach the goal. But there are no signs of that happening. The conflict is completely deadlocked.

– It is a legal labor dispute, but the parties should work on solutions.

– How likely is it that the outcome will be a compulsory wage board?

– There is no conflict that lasts forever, but this can take a long time. It will not be beneficial for either party if it is resolved by force. It is not good for the collaboration, and you postpone the problem to the next settlement.

– Does this conflict stand out in any way?

– It is not unique, but it has lasted a very long time. And it is unusual when the conflict affects a vulnerable third party – the children.

Ombudsman Mats Wilhelm Ruland thinks the teachers’ strike is “sad”. Photo: Chris Anderson, NEWS AGENCY/NTB

Can stop the strike by force

The government can intervene and stop the strike if the parties do not agree.

The criterion for intervening is that it must be necessary, for example that the strike affects life and health.

This is called a compulsory wage board. It is the National Wages Board that dictates the result.

There are no general legal rules on compulsory wage boards in Norway. But because it interferes with the constitutional right to strike, it must be adopted separately on a case-by-case basis.

It is the Ministry of Labor and Inclusion that formally comes up with a bill that prohibits further strikes. Following a recommendation from the Ministry of Education. It is the Storting that adopts the bill.

– Unploughed field

The forced salary board has not been used before in a teacher conflict, according to Alsos.

– The conflict is very deadlocked, and the pressure is increasing on both parties to find a solution, says Kristin Alsos, expert in employment law at the research foundation Fafo.

Kristin Alsos, head of research at Fafo, says mental health becomes important in the assessment of the compulsory wage board. Photo: Private

– This is unplowed ground. We have no similar cases to compare ourselves with. The question is whether two years of a pandemic and little teaching, and the fact that some children are not doing well at home and are struggling mentally, is enough to intervene.

In the health sector, it may be enough that one patient is not taken care of.

– Here the question becomes whether the danger to life and health is acute enough, because mental health has not been used before. I think there will be an overall assessment of whether it is serious for many young people, and that the conflict is deadlocked, says Alsos.

Winners and losers

Also sees one winner if the state intervenes: KS.

– The Education Association has everything to lose from a forced wage board. Then they can only get a salary increase from the day the strike is over, and not from 1 May, which is on the table now.

– This has become a war of attrition, where both parties are waiting to see who gives up first, she says.

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: Tonje Brenna meets parties teachers strike

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