I'd almost forgotten that one of the joys of living in Europe is the prevalence of strikes, which seem to appear out of nowhere sometimes. I can remember every instance of being affected by them since my first time in Europe in 1999. My father and I were travelling through France and the people who keep the ATM machines filled with money went on strike. There was a train strike on one of our trips to Amsterdam, resulting in a mad dash to a bus that we found out about at the last minute to take us to connect with a friend in Rotterdam. And we were affected by plenty of train strikes while living in Paris. Always a good excuse for a day off work!
Strikes are going on across the country in Norway at the moment, though I'm a bit more knowledgeable about the actions affecting Stavanger than anywhere else. Children are showing up at workplaces because some of the kindergarten workers are on strike. Fuel stocks are being closely monitored because of the boat pilots' strike - and with reason to worry with summer fast approaching, a time of mass exodus by car of Norwegians to their hytte hideaways (many Stavanger residents commute heavily in summer from cabins near Lysefjord, for example). Elsewhere infighting is occurring to keep the cause alive. It's interesting to read about the effects of strikes - this year's actions have already affected criminal investigations, delayed tax refunds, halted weather forecasts and caused the early release of some prisoners. Immigrants are actually lucky that the unions provided dispensations so that the offices servicing their (our) migration would not be shut completely.
So how have we been affected? My visa was granted this week (yay!) and I needed to go to the police station to have my photo taken and the label put in my passport. Not to be selfish but the strike actually really helped me out - I was able to get that done relatively quickly by the main police desk instead of having to wait six weeks for an appointment at the skilled service workers centre, which was closed today when I went to enquire. Yes, you read that six weeks part correctly. So please don't think I'm complaining when I point out that I can't get my personal number (or a bank account, or officially onto the healthcare system) until the tax office re-opens. It's currently closed for the duration of the strike. We will also continue to wait for our boxes of stuff to finish its long journey from Australia - we're just after some different clothing at this point, having last seen most of our wardrobes in December in Melbourne when we transferred it from storage to shipping company. Strikes at the ports mean no personal belongings for us for awhile. At least we get to keep on living like backpackers for a little while longer (kind of).
You may think that we've been on strike of late (higher pay for bloggers anyone?), with fewer updates than usual on this website over the last few weeks. I assure you that's not the case - there are a number of things happening that have kept us away from the blog, which I'll write about in coming posts.
Strikes can happen all over the world. Do you have them often in your country?