Norway sees first public sector strikes in almost 30 years

Norway has seen its first public sector strike since 1984, with tens of thousands of workers downing tools in a dispute over pay and conditions. Up to 30,000 government employees walked out of their posts last week, affecting prisons, schools, nursing homes and even weather forecasts.

Some police forces in the cities of Trondheim, Tromsoe and Bergen took part in the strikes, but officers confirmed that Anders Behring Breivik’s murder trial in Oslo was not affected.

Due to its oil wealth, Norway has continued to grow economically despite the current turmoil seen in the rest of Europe. Growth stood at 1.4 percent for the first quarter of 2012, with the government projecting growth of 3.75 percent for the year as a whole.

Unions are calling for a four percent pay rise for workers, who they say are losing out to the private sector. The government, however, said the economy could “overheat” if wage restraint is not practiced.

“We were surprised there was no acceptance for our offer and I’m sorry about it,” Administration Minister Rigmor Aasrud told Norwegian broadcaster NRK on Thursday (May 24) as talks continued in Oslo.

According to the media, unions Unio, YS and LO have already broken off negotiations, while Akademikerne remains in talks. An LO spokesperson said the government has failed to yield to “fair demands for wage development on a par with the rest of the workforce”.

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