Norway strike springtime


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!

Norway strike springtime

Springtime and striking go hand in hand in Norway. Photo by Geir Halvorsen from Flickr.

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?

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Back in the 80’s, NYC had a huge garbage strike. Mountains of garbage were piled 8ft high on the sidewalks. It definitely wasn’t a place you wanted to be. I’m not sure how it got resolved but I was glad it did!

7 years ago

That would not be pretty! Sounds like what was happening in Italy recently…

7 years ago

We get plenty of strikes in Chile, but mostly it’s high school and university students or specific (usually unionized) groups who do the striking. Last August there was a call for a national strike, but everything in my office was business as usual. Hope things open up again for you soon!

7 years ago
Reply to  Emily in Chile

Well, today the tax office was open but they told me it will be four weeks before I receive my personal number – I need it to do pretty much anything in this country. They must be so backed up after the strike! Impossible!

7 years ago

So happy you got your visa!! That’s so exciting. 🙂 I haven’t experienced any strikes here in Oz, but definitely in France and Italy. They seem to LOVE them there. 🙂

7 years ago
Reply to  Krista

Oh yes- France and Italy are notorious. I’ll never forget the story of the fruit vendors dumping their trucks out in one of the big intersections in Paris.

Don’t even get me started on Buenos Aires 🙂

7 years ago

Was just reading today about how Argentines are going to have to register before taking off on expensive overseas holidays – to prevent tax evasion. It was in the Economist. The financial situation there is getting really bad, isn’t it?

I remember when I was in Australia the train employees went on strike a couple of times. But instead of not showing up for work, it was business as usual but they just didn’t charge anyone to ride the train. This is why I like Australians.

The quarrel tends to get settled pretty quickly when the company is losing money.

7 years ago

I wonder how long it will take then for the government employees striking – Norwegian government seems to be flush…

Love that anecdote about the Aussies – I don’t remember too many strikes when we lived there except maybe a teachers strike. I always think that teachers should get paid more…

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