Labour demonstration

October 15th 1998 saw the largest joint trade union action ever in Norway, when 1,2 million members all over the country participated in a two hours' demonstration against the non-labour government's plan to reduce the holidays and change the rules for sickness benefit. In Oslo thousands of people gathered outside the Parliament building, where the leader of The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisasjonen), Yngve Hågensen, was among the speakers.

May 1 demonstration, Oslo

From the May Day demonstration in Oslo in 1970. Young members of the new militant party, AKP m-l (Workers' communist party, m-l) are carrying anti-capitalistic slogans and portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and other communist leaders. The wave of radicalisation among students and other young people also spread to the trade unions during the 1970's. In its wake followed a series of so-called wild-cat strikes all over the country.

Torchlight parade during election campaign

In 1935 an agreement between the Labour Party and the Agrarian Party made the formation of a labour government possible. Before the election of 1936 a huge propaganda apparatus was launched with the aim to secure an absolute majority for the party in parliament. Even if the election was a large victory for the party, the main goal was not reached. The building in the background is the Folketeater (The people's teatre) building on Youngstorget in Oslo, built in 1933 as a centre for cultural activities in the labour movement.

Poster for international wrestling competition

Low cost athletic activities like wrestling and boxing were popular among working class youth. In 1934, when this arrangement took place, the Norwegian labour sport organisation Arbeidernes Idrettsforbund (AIF) could celebrate its 10th anniversary with a membership figure of more than 50 000. Five years later the figure was doubled. Measured by number of members, AIF was the largest culture organisation in the labour movement. In 1936 an agreement was made with the traditional sport movement, and after the war the two groups merged.

A message from Bucharin

The Norwegian Labour Party's future relations with the Comintern was the key issue of the party's national congress in February 1923. From Comintern met Nikolaj Bucharin, who during the congress sent this note to Martin Tranmæl, the main strategist of the Norwegian party. The translation was done by a Swedish delegate. Bucharin's strong personality and great charm failed, however, to prevent that Tranmæls course, the so-called Kristiania-motion, was adopted with a very small margin.

Banner of the Seamstress' Union, Oslo

This banner has belonged to the Seamstress' union in Oslo, founded in 1891 as the first union of women in Norway. The banner motive depicts a seamstress at her sewing machine, the main production tool of the women in the industry. Around the turn of the century the seamstresses as a group were embraced with large social interest, and they are portrayed both in literature and art of this period. The seamstresses who worked at home were often exploited by their employers, having lower wages and longer working hours than any other group in the profession.

The 'Sulitjelma medal'

In the winter of 1907 the management at the copper and pyrites mines in Sulitjelma in northern Norway tried to introduce a new control system aiming to achieve a larger work intensity. Each worker received a number tag of lead to be worn in a cord around the neck and handed over after each work shift. The enraged workers immediately named the tags “slave tags” and boycotted the system. Ultimately the incident led to the founding of the first workers' union in Sulitjelma.

A school for Lapp children

Lapp children outside their school in Sandnes, Sør-Varanger, 1901. Up to the last war, a majority of these schools aimed to Norwegianize the children, and Lappish language and culture were suppressed. The photographer is Ellisif Wessel, who together with her husband, doctor Andreas Wessel, were pioneers in the labour movement in Finnmark, the northernmost county in Norway. Besides being a competent photographer, Ellisif Wessel was an industrious contributor to the labour press. She also wrote two collections of poems and one children's book and published for a time her own periodical.

Match workers on strike

In Norway as in many other countries, 1889 was a year of strikes and other labour conflicts. The most famous conflict was the match workers' strike in Kristiania (Oslo). Here women and child workers went to strike for better wages and working conditions. The most important result of the strike was that it awakened the social conscience of the middle and upper classes. The prominent author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson was among those who sided with the match workers and brought the public's attention to their horrible working conditions.