The teachers’ strike is still prolonged. This cannot go on. Now the parties must sit down and come to an agreement – for the good of the students.
On Tuesday this week, the teachers’ strike escalated sharply. Today, nearly 6,500 teachers went on strike. On Monday, another 1,800 teachers will go on strike.
The strike began at a school in Bergen just before summer vacation and has since spread.
A teachers’ strike will always affect students, just as, for example, a nurses’ strike will always affect patient groups. This does not mean that these professional groups should not be able to strike. They can, like everyone else, as long as their life and health are not at stake.
What is unjustifiable in the teachers’ strike is not that the teachers are on strike. The indefensible is the moment of the strike. So you could say there is never a good time – but right now is the worst time imaginable. Now is where the most is at stake – for the students.
Impractical at best
It’s not like the airstrikes this summer, when people’s vacations went up in smoke and people went on strike abroad. As heartbreaking as it has been for those affected, it is much more serious that thousands of children and young people are not enjoying the daily school life to which they are entitled.
Norwegian students not only lost school, but normality during two years of pandemic. Two years is a long time in a short life. This led to serious psychological problems for several students.
They need the teacher back – now more than ever. For many, school is the safest place and the teacher the safest adult.
Teachers know this – and municipalities know this – better than most.
Nevertheless, the parties chose 2022 to put hard against hard. It’s embarrassing at best. The Ombudsman has, on his own initiative, tried to help find a solution, but the situation is completely blocked. The level of aggression is high – and serves no one.
War of attrition
The education union, which represents 190,000 teachers, pushed KS to its limits. They want more money on the table, while KS is tied hand and foot.
A common salary framework for 2022 has already been set and agreed by 37 of the 40 unions which, together with the Confederation of Education, negotiated with KS this spring. The salary supplements have already been paid.
If teachers should get more money, others should get less. The money has to come from somewhere. Either it is nurses or other items in the municipal budget.
Let’s say the teachers were suddenly going to have more. This paves the way for the other 37 unions to demand new wage negotiations.
This is what makes negotiations so impossible.
KS, for his part, seems to speculate on the brand of teachers as insensitive to the situation of the students. It has to be done. Teachers generally enjoy great trust in society. It has been strengthened, not weakened, by the pandemic.
And it is clear that the teachers did everything to spare the students. The strike started during the summer holidays. And the escalation has been slow, well heralded and gradual.
tricks with numbers
There has been enough time to resolve this conflict. Nevertheless, it goes in the opposite direction – and that is serious.
KS has the muscle to sit on the conflict. The Education Association accuses KS of speculating in the salary board, to which KS reacts strongly.
Salary negotiations between the Education Association and KS are like most other salary negotiations. The tricked and mixed with numbers and statistics. The big question is whether teachers are pay losers or not? The question is, which teachers are we talking about? Everything can be explained and explained.
KS refers to teachers with approved training when they argue that teachers are mostly where they should be in terms of salary growth in recent years.
The Norwegian Education Association provides the figures The technical committee for calculating income adjustments (TBU) on the ground, as it should. It shows that teachers have lost salaries over the past six years.
These are figures that include “everyone working as a teacher”, including unqualified teachers who earn less.
Even with the latter group subtracted, teachers experienced lower salary growth than other comparable municipal employees.
Here another paradox appears: if municipalities consider unqualified teachers, nearly 25,000 in number, are good enough to be used as teachers in schools – then shouldn’t they also be treated as teachers? And be part of the basis of the negotiations?
Teachers deserve more
Overall, the teachers have a good record. There’s no good reason Norwegian teachers earn so much on average much less than their counterparts in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands or Canada.
It is to the greatest extent a problem that the number of applicants for teacher training dives. This one of three newly graduated teachers never start out as teachers in school. That many teachers with high salaries apply to AFP or are about to retire.
Many call it a teacher crisis. But there are circumstances where KS won’t interfere in this year’s salary negotiations.
It’s short-sighted at best. The teacher revolt we are witnessing has been brewing for years.
The pandemic has become a turning point for the professional group. Because when most of the others retreated to the home office, or got a plexiglass between themselves and the client, or the user – it was the teachers who had to show up in the classrooms. Without the mask and the tape measure.
Unable to continue
And these are the thanks they receive. The pressure to strike, because KS and the municipalities are not moving an inch.
It is understandable that the teachers are upset and combative. They demand better conditions – for the good of the students. KS and the municipalities ask them to end the strike – for the good of the students.
Pushing the students ahead of you in a labor dispute in this way is both unpleasant and unmusical. Both parties can have a good record. But no one comes out of this war of words well.
Right now it is very important that the strike be called off. And that doesn’t happen if the parties aren’t even willing to meet for talks. It just can’t go on like this.
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