Strikers planning to put work in a brief deep freeze

strike notice

It may be -20C and gusty, but a group of folks standing around outside will be burning hot.

Dozens of Longyearbyen residents are planning to gather in the town’s central square at 2 p.m. Wednesday as part of a nationwide strike protesting the Conservative-led government’s proposed changes to Norway’s Working Environment Act. The two-hour work stoppage is expected to significantly affect flights, public transport and kindergartens on the mainland, but the impact in Svalbard will probably be considerably less noticeable.

“There are no scheduled flights to the mainland tomorrow since it’s Wednesday,” said Svalbard Airport Manager Morten Ulsnes. “We only have the mail plane, which departs before the strike.”

A flight carrying workers from Longyearbyen to Svea scheduled to take off about half-an-hour before the end of the strike will be slightly delayed, Ulsnes said.

The strikers themselves may be less noticeable as well as a cold spell has some people planning to participate acknowledging they’re unlikely to remain clustered in the square for two hours. More than 50 people had indicated on a Facebook page for the event they’re planning to attend as of late Tuesday afternoon.

The strikers are concerned the proposed changes will result in more temporary employees working longer hours, more mandatory hours for permanent workers and more work on Sundays. Labor organizations participating in the strike include the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, the Confederation of Vocational Unions, and the Confederation of Unions for Universities College Graduates. The associations represent 1.5 million workers.