Strike in the transport sector

Attempts at mediation between the bargaining parties in the Norwegian transport sector broke down in May 1998, and 5,700 workers went on strike. It is the first time that the two of the trade unions involved, NTF and NRAF, have joined forces in wage settlement negotiations.

Attempts at mediation in bargaining over a new collective agreement in the transport sector broke down in May 1998, and 5,700 workers had gone on strike by 22 May. The strikes involve those covered by the collective agreements for scheduled bus transport, long-distance freight transport by road, and bus drivers employed by Norwegian Railways (NSB). The conflict will be stepped up incrementally until 6 June 1998 unless a new agreement is reached.

The negotiations between the Norwegian Transport Workers' Union (Norsk Transportarbeiderforbund, NTF) and the Norwegian Bus Drivers' Union (Norsk Rutebilarbeiderforbund, NRAF) on the one hand, and the Federation of Norwegian Transport Companies (Transportbedriftenes Landsforening, TL) and the Norwegian Hauliers Association (Norsk Lastebileier-Forbund, NLF) on the other, broke down just after midnight on 13 May 1998. Some 3,000 workers in the bus transport sector went out on strike on 14 May. Mediation also broke down on 16 May between bus drivers employed by Norwegian Railways (NSB Biltrafikk A/S) and the Norwegian Association of Publicly Owned Companies (Norges Arbeidsgiverforening for Virksomheter med Offentlig tilknytning, NAVO). As a result, approximately 400 members of the National Union of Railway Workers (Norsk Jernbaneforbund, NJ), NTF and NRAF went on strike.

It is the first time that NTF, which is a member union of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisasjonen i Norge, LO) and NRAF, which is a member union of the Confederation of Vocational Unions (Yrkesorganisasjonenes Sentralforbund, YS), have joined forces in wage settlement negotiations, and in 1998 they have coordinated their demands, negotiations and the selection of companies to be targeted for strikes. The original demands by the employee side were a general pay increase of NOK 17 per hour in scheduled bus transport, while the employer side proposed a maximum wage increase of NOK 9. Long-distance freight transport workers demanded NOK 50 per hour as an alternative to the present piecework arrangements, and a guaranteed monthly salary of NOK 18,000. A dispute over the issue of arrangements for complementary tickets for bus drivers and their families has also been an important factor in halting the mediation process.

On 22 May there was still no signs of progress between the parties, and if no solution is found by 6 June, most Norwegian bus companies and several large freight companies will be hit by strikes.

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