Norway employers reach deal with union averting bus and ferry disruption

Norway employers reach deal with union averting bus and ferry disruption
The negotiations were the toughest for years, according to Norway's national mediator. Photo: LO
Norway's unions reached a deal with employers on Sunday averting strike action which could have disturbed bus and ferry services across the country, and risked spreading to other industries.

The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Confederation of Vocational Unions struck a deal with the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise to raise wages by 2.7 percent on average, close to the 2.8 percent rise the unions had demanded.

“We were 0.1 percent away from our requirement,” LO leader Peggy Hessen Følsvik said at a press conference announcing the deal. “LO as a responsible organisation cannot take our country out on a general strike for a difference of 30 øre. I don’t think we would have got any understanding for that.”

The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise said the talks were the toughest in years, with many employers seeking to freeze wages to help weather the tough economic conditions.

“We are happy with that,” the organisation’s chief executive, Ole Erik Almlid, told NRK of the decision to limit the top-up given to the lowest wage workers to one krona per hour.

“I think many of our companies would like to see it zero, to be completely honest. They are struggling with the economy and many of their employees have been laid off.”

READ ALSO: Is Norway headed for a major public transport strike?

As many as 31,500 union members would have gone on strike if no agreement had been reached, according to NRK.

Companies which risked being affected by the strike included Aker Solutions, Norsk Hydro, Yara , Elkem, Glencore and Boliden.

As inflation is expected to be 2.8 percent in Norway this year, the settlement will see the workers’ wages fall slightly in real terms.

Even so, the employers had been pushing for an average raise of just 2.2 percent.


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