Union of Education Norway

President Steffen Handal in front of teachers on strike.
President Steffen Handal in front of 1088 teachers on strike in Bergen in 2014. (Photo: Frode Andersen)

Union of Education Norway is Norway's largest trade union for teaching personnel. It's currently the country's second largest trade union.

Union of Education Norway was founded on 2 October 2001. Steffen Handal is the President of Union of Education Norway from January 1 2016, with Terje Skyvulstad and Hege Valås as Vice Presidents.

A short description

Union of Education Norway (Utdanningsforbundet) is Norway’s dominating union for the education sector and is at present the country’s second largest trade union. We represent talented and conscientious professionals with teacher and academic qualifications within the entire Norwegian educational system. We have members working as teachers or leaders in early childhood education, in primary and secondary education and training, as well as in the college and university sector. We also have members working with the Educational Psychological Service, at special education centers, in adult education and in administration.

A provider of premises and a driving force

Union of Education Norway is a democratic organization with elected officials at all levels. Membership in our union provides our members with  significant influence over their jobs and over educational policies and working conditions.

Organisation

The National Congress is held once every four years and is Union of Education Norway’s highest governing body. Between congresses the Committee of Representatives meets two to three times per year to take financial decisions and discuss issues of principle. The Executive Board is responsible for the follow up of decisions taken by the Congress. Union of Education Norway’s members are associated through five defined member groups with their own forum at the central and regional level. The Executive Board  has six advisory committees. Members at the work place level are organised through the ‘Club’ and communicate with the employer through an elected representative. A board of representatives at municipality (428) and county level (19) constitutes the local and regional level of the organization.

Core values and ethics

Union of Education Norway’s core values and ethical principles are based on human rights and essential democratic values such as freedom, equality and solidarity and on the basic ethics of the teaching profession.

Our core values and ethical principles are obligatory for all members and representatives.

Mission

Union of Education Norway aims to influence social development through visible contributions in the national political debate according to our core values and ethics. Our goal is to contribute to the development of a society characterised by tolerance and respect for differences and diversity. The education sector is an important arena for developing democracy and encouraging tolerance in a culturally complex society.

In this sense the organisation is political, but we are not tied to any particular party or political movement. The foundations for our interventions in the political debate will always be our role as teachers. Our main concern is to help develop an educational system with high quality that offers free and equal public education for all.

Particular areas of work

  • Work for salaries and working conditions that reflect the teaching professions role, responsibilities and competence and the need to attract good candidates to the profession.
  • Work for a good physical and psycho-social working environment for both pupils and members.
  • Work for the right and obligation for all members to enhance and update their competence through their working career.

Union of Education Norway’s rules

  • Union of Education Norway is a politically independent organisation. It is not associated with any political party. It exists to represent professionals with a teacher education  working within the education sector at all levels in the Norwegian education system.
  • Union of Education Norway shall strive to protect the interests of its members in issues regarding salaries, working conditions, and in professional matters  and in relation to educational policies.
  • Union of Education Norway shall strive to provide children, adolescents and adults with quality education and training and work to make education play a vital role in society.

Information channels

Our website provides information on the union and its activities, its publications, information on salaries, agreements and issues relating to the profession.

Union of Education Norway publishes a professional trade union journal called ‘Utdanning’ (Education), in addition to the professional journals ‘Bedre Skole’ (Better School – the relationship between profession and research), ‘Første Steg’ (First Step – especially for early childhood education) and ‘Yrke’ (Trade – especially for VET).

The union also arranges an array of workshops and conferences for  members and non-members.  Union of Education Norway can be found on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Union of Education Norway on Facebook

Union of Education Norway on Twitter

International work

Union of Education Norway has a significant international engagement both in international solidarity work and work in or in relation to international organisations.  Much of our  international work is channelled through or connected to work in Education International (EI), www.ei-ie.org.

Unio – our union centre

Union of Education Norway is a member of Unio (the Confederation of Unions for Professionals, Norway), with over 320.000 members. Unio is responsible for central salary negotiations and agreements.

In addition to Union of Education Norway, Unio has eleven member unions that include the Norwegian Nurses’ Organization, the Norwegian Association of Researchers, the Norwegian Police Federation, the Norwegian Physiotherapist Association, the Norwegian Ergonomics Association, the Church of Norway Pastors’ Association, the Norwegian University or College Graduate Union, the Norwegian Association of Deacons, the Association of Tax Accountants, the Norwegian Society of Radiographers and the Norwegian Union of Marine Engineers.

For more information, please go to www.unio.no.

Student members

Pedagogstudentene (PS), the association for teacher students, is an affiliate of Union of Education Norway.  Among other goals, PS works to improve the quality of the various types of teacher education and fights for the rights of its members during their years of study. For more information about student members, please visit www.pedagogstudentene.no

The education system in Norway

Children aged 1 to 5 may attend early childhood education, which is voluntary and financed partly by parental payments and government subsidies.

Children aged 6 to 15 attend primary and lower secondary school, which is divided into primary school (age 6 to 12) and lower secondary school (age 13 to 15). All children in Norway have the right and obligation to attend primary and lower secondary school. Primary and lower secondary education is free of charge.

Children aged 6 to 9 may attend the day-care facilities for schoolchildren before and after school hours. The scheme is voluntary and involves part-payment by parents.

Everyone who has completed compulsory education has the right to attend three years of upper secondary education. Upper secondary education and training is voluntary and free of charge. About 96 % of the 16 year cohort starts upper secondary education.

Norway has eight universities and a number of specialised colleges and universities owned by the state. Norway also has a number of private institutions of higher education. Public higher education is free of charge except for a small semester fee which covers expenditures relating to welfare. In private higher education institutions the semester fees might be quite expensive.