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The controversy over the future of Gerd-Liv Walla has made it boil in the LO organization. Professor Hege Skjeie doesn't think it has anything to do with gender.


Some federal leaders have been out saying that Valla's treatment of Ingunn Yssen had hardly happened if the former was a man, are they right?

- I think we get to try to distinguish between individual ruling techniques and power structures here. There are no individuals running around and are essential women – or men, for that matter, within the organizations. So such talk is for me just nonsense. It's probably a pure gender stereotypical idea – isn't it? Eventually, perhaps we can rather try to understand why it is primarily women who have fronted this issue internally, and men who have fronted it externally? So if we strive to understand what gender means in all this.

Yngve Hågensen was a sawmill worker and man. Did Gerd-Liv Valla, as a woman and a representative of the public employees, represent a cultural change?

- There is no doubt that the distinction between private and public sector has been one of the most central in recent decades, and that there has been a shift in weight within LO in the direction of the public sector. But it was also just missing – it meant first and foremost that the public sector was a little less marginalized. It's definitely a culture shift too, but mostly

does this change represent a more balanced, nuanced view of society, you ask me. And it is unconditionally good.

Valla has been focusing on gender equality and low-wage groups since taking over the management club in 2001. What happens if she leaves?

- It is probably not Gerd-Liv Valla who fronts the equal pay struggle in Norway as such, so it will not be much worse than it already is. LO has always tried to define the equal pay problem in its own way, ie first and foremost as a low-wage problem. I do not feel that Valla has represented any revolution when it comes to opening up to more aspects here. It is probably Bente Slåtten and the nurses' association who have managed. They are completely outside LO, in other words.

Has the focus on gender equality and low-wage groups been in conflict with other interests within the trade union movement?

- It is so absolute, equal pay regulations have, for example, from time to time been regarded in LO as a threat to the entire "free right to bargain". Not least as it has been understood by the private sector. That is why equal pay has been so weakly regulated through the Gender Equality Act as well. In its time, LO threatened to sabotage the entire Gender Equality Act if the government did not keep its fingers off the wage determination in this area. Here it was the "front subjects" that were to decide.

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