New law could see flight to public sector

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Anne-Kari Bratten of employer association Spekter: "The public sector is in many ways a monopoly"
10:24 CEST+02:00
The private sector in Norway has begun to react to a new law in Norway aimed at making public-sector salary information available to all.

It is understood the business sector’s age-old battles to staff their companies could suffer a major reverse if Norway’s individual public-sector wages become public knowledge. Those employed or hired by government have seen exponential growth for their salaries since the first wage booms of the 1980s, and Norwegian civil servants among the best-paid in Europe.

The average Norwegian public-sector salary for men in 2010 was 40,300 ($7,000) kroner per month compared with 36,900 in industry and 45,800 in the information and communications technology sector. Job security in the public sector is ranked No. 1 in Norway.

The state’s fully owned and part-owned companies are largely the country’s best salary payers, and a flight of talent from the traditional private sector is feared. According to Norwegian information-technology newspaper Digi, the salaries of some 800,000 Norwegian workers — or about half the country’s workforce — will be available for access-to-information requests when a new law is voted into the records in the coming months.

“It will shock people,” said Anne-Kari Bratten, deputy administrative director of the employer association Spekter.

She doesn’t agree with Norwegian politicians who warn the new transparency law will harm recruitment, although she appeared to mean public-sector recruitment.

“The public sector is in many ways a monopoly,” said Bratten.

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The government’s renewal minister, Labour’s Rigmor Assrud, said transparency goals on government spending would be made clearer with access to public-sector salary information. How access would work in practice has not been worked out, Assrud said.

It was Norway’s information authority, the Datatilsynet, which recommended to the Directorate of Management and Internet & Communications Technology that pay slips be classed as public information.

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