‘EVERYTHING IS ALMOST NORMAL FOR NOW’: Local post office still receiving most mail despite strike by security workers, some packages may be sent by boat if strike continues

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A strike by security employees that had postal officials warning it would “paralyze” mail and packages to Svalbard is so far having little practical impact since items are being sent via commercial flights, Longyearbyen Post Office Manager Terje Gjeitnes said Wednesday.

About 200 additional security employees joined the strike Saturday that started Sept. 16 when 2,000 workers walked out over disputes about wages hikes, involuntary part-time work, fixed pay versus hourly pay and the conditions for apprentices. An alert issued by Posten Norge warned the accelerated strike meant mail at many airports including Tromsø would no longer receive necessary security screen, citing Svalbard specifically as a destination that could be cut off from everything from ordinary mail to critical items such as pharmaceuticals.

But officials quickly arranged to send crucial items including medicine and food items via Bring AS and/or commercial flights, and Gjeitnes on Wednesday said most other shipments were arriving normally as well.

“We are getting letter mail and packages from SAS/Norwegian every day due to the security strike in, among other places,” he stated in an online announcement. “There are security guards scanning the mail there before loading into the plane. So everything is almost normal for now.”

Among the concerns expressed by postal officials is the increased amount of mail and packages being sent as the holidays approach. Gjeitnes said if the expanded strike is prolonged it may be necessary to use alternatives to flights for some items destined for Svalbard.

“If the strike continues, packages may be loaded on the boat when it departs from Tromsø, but we will see how long this strike will be,” he said.