Beer, bakery and meat strikes could hit Norway

Failing a succesful mediation, Norwegians face a possible shortage of beer, hot dogs and baked goods as a result of workers’ strikes.

Beer, bakery and meat strikes could hit Norway
Beverage and bakery employees have threatened to strike. Photos: Thomas Bjørnflaten and Heiko Junge / Scanpix
Brewers are threatening to go on strike from Wednesday morning, followed by bakers on Thursday and the meat industry on Friday. 
Parties in the beverage industry have been in mediation since Monday after salary negotiations broke down in mid-April. The mediation deadline expires on Wednesday morning. 
Over a thousand beverage industry employees and 582 bakery workers across the country will go on strike this week if salary negotiations fail.
The beverage and bakery workers are represented by the Norwegian Food and Allied Workers Union (Norsk Nærings- og Nytelsesmiddelarbeiderforbund – NNN), whose chief negotiator Stein Hagala told NTB that “little has been done” to reach a wage agreement with employer’s association NHO Mat og Drikke. 
A beverage workers' strike would impact employees at Coca-Cola, EC Dahls Bryggeri, Grans Bryggeri, Macks Ølbryggeri, Ringnes, Telemark Kildevann and Voss Production AS.
A bakery strike would affect employees of Mesterbakeren AS, Bakehuset AS and Kløverbakeriet, all of which deliver baked goods to Norwegian supermarkets.
As if the prospect of a beer and bread strike wasn’t enough, some 1,500 employees of 21 companies within the meat industry say that they will walk off the job on Friday morning if their wage negotiations aren’t successful. 

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Hundreds of thousands take to streets against Macron’s pension plan

Demonstrators in France took to the streets Saturday for a seventh day of protest against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform plans, with police expecting up to a million people at rallies nationwide.

Hundreds of thousands take to streets against Macron's pension plan

Unions hope they can still force Macron to back down as parliament debates the draft law, with the National Assembly and the Senate moving towards a final vote as early as this month.

“This is the final stretch,” said Marylise Leon, deputy leader of the CFDT union. “The endgame is now,” she told the franceinfo broadcaster Saturday.

This week, Macron twice turned down urgent calls by unions to meet with him in a last-ditch attempt to get him to change his mind.

“When there are millions of people in the streets, when there are strikes and all we get from the other side is silence, people wonder: What more do we need to do to be heard?”, said Philippe Martinez, boss of the hard-left CGT

“This country’s leaders need to stop being in denial of this social movement,” said CFDT head Laurent Berger on Saturday.

Police said they expect between 800,000 and one million people at 230 planned demonstrations across France, of which up to 100,000 were likely to march in Paris.

It was the second protest day called on a weekend, with unions hoping that demonstrators would show up in greater numbers if they did not have to take a day off work.

“I’m here to fight for my colleagues and for our young people,” said Claude Jeanvoine, 63, a retired train driver demonstrating in Strasbourg, eastern France. “People shouldn’t let the government get away with this, this is about the future of their children and grandchildren,” he told AFP.

READ ALSO: 5 minutes to understand … French pension reform 

At the last big strike and protest day on Tuesday, turnout was just under 1.3 million people, according to police, and more than three million according to unions.

Several sectors in the French economy have been targeted by union calls for indefinite strikes, including in rail and air transport, power stations, natural gas terminals and rubbish collection.

The French Senate, meanwhile, early Saturday resumed debate on the reform whose headline measure is a hike in the minimum retirement age to 64 from 62.

Senators have until Sunday evening to conclude their discussions, and a commission is then to elaborate a final version of the draft law which will be submitted to both houses of parliament for a final vote.

Should Macron’s government fail to assemble a majority ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne could deploy a rarely-used constitutional tool, known as article 49/3, to push the legislation through without a vote.

An opinion poll published by broadcaster BFMTV Saturday found that 63 percent of French people approve the protests against the reform, and 54 percent were also in favour of the strikes and blockages in some sectors.

Some 78 percent, however, said they believed that Macron would end up getting the reform adopted.

READ ALSO: LATEST: How strikes will affect France this weekend