Norway: 90,000 teachers strike over working-hour reforms

An estimated 90,000 Norwegian schoolteachers took part in a spot strike on Thursday to protest proposed working-hour reforms.

EI affiliate the Union of Education called the strike, which began at noon and was to last a few hours, during contract talks, to protest changes it says threaten the quality of education. The strike forced primary and secondary schools to close for the afternoon or reduce activities in all parts of the country except Oslo. Schools in the capital do not negotiate through the association of municipalities. The teachers union objects to a proposal by their employers' representative, The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities, to set regular, often longer, working hours for teachers. The teachers claim such hours will cut into the flexibility and time they need to prepare lessons and follow up with individual students. "This strike is a battle to ensure quality in schools, and not a wage conflict," said Helga Hjetland of the union. She also said the proposal would, in reality, lead to teachers putting in about 90 minutes a day in unpaid overtime. The employers group representing Norwegian townships, which employ teachers, said the educators should have working hours that are more in line with those of other municipal employees.

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