Labor unions gather in Oslo to protest against new work laws. Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB scanpix
Several thousand union members gathered in Oslo and Trondheim to protest against the Norwegian government's proposition to changes in the working condition legislation.
The event saw all who took part quit their jobs for the day on Tuesday to strike in support of their union LO (Landsorganisasjonen i Norge). The protest was against the government’s proposed changes to work conditions legislation in Norway.
Minister of Labour, Robert Eriksson, wants it to be made easier for employers to take on staff in the short-term and not offer permanent positions.
Two days before the hearings in parliament, Eriksson said: “There will be changes in the working conditions legislation, but the main trend in Norwegian worklife will remain permanent employment.”
“There will not be access to employ the same person several times in a row. It will not be possible to replace employees with another short-term employee, and we also wish to introduce quarantine periods for the companies,” the minister said.
On Youngstorget Square in Oslo, the leader of LO in Oslo and Akershus, Roy Pedersen, spoke out during the strike and joined many who believe the government's proposals attack the heart of Norwegian society.
In Trondheim, bus drivers took part, with other professions, in a three hour long strike. On Trondheim Square the leader of LO in Trondheim, John-Peder Denstad, was among those making appeals for the government to amend the new laws in favour of workers.
Arve Kambe, head of the Committee of Labour and Social Affairs in the Norwegian parliament, considered the political strike as not serious.
Kambe was critical of the union group when he said: “If LO wishes to make an impact, what will help is dialogue, meetings and hearings in parliament, as well as constructive debate. Arranging a strike, and in addition, threatening with a general strike before the proposals are presented to parliament and adjudged by parliament, does not make LO worthy as a serious employer organization.”
Labour Party chairman, Jonas Gahr Støre, said about Tuesday's strike: “Those standing out there say "yes" to permanent employment and "no" to short-term positions and job uncertainty.”
Tor-Arne Solbakken, LO vice-president, said to NTB: “[The proposed laws] strengthen the power of company chiefs over their employees. The power of decision-making is transferred from worker representatives and unions to the individual employee.”
LO suggested to extend the legal trial period for new recruits from six to nine months. MP Robert Eriksson considers this an irrelevant move, reported VG.
Eriksson said: “It's like comparing apples and pears. In the trial period you are permanently employed, and there's completely different grounds to firing somebody than if you are employed on short-term.”