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WORKING IN NORWAY

EXPLAINED: What is a Norwegian collective bargaining agreement? 

Workers in Norway will undoubtedly have heard about collective bargaining agreements, especially if they are unionised. But what is meant by the term, and how do they work? 

Pictured is the bridge which connects barcode with Grønland in Oslo.
This is what foreign workers in Norway need to know about trade unions in Norway. Pictured is a bridge that leads to the barcode district of Oslo. Photo by Gunnar Ridderström on Unsplash

A good work-life balance, high wages, and generous vacation time are some of the many benefits that lure foreign workers to Norway. 

However, a lot of these rights aren’t protected by Norwegian laws. Instead, worker’s regulations are a mixture of agreements between the country’s trade unions and employers, and government legislature. 

Working life in the country can best be summarised as a system of tripartite cooperation where employers, employee organisations and the government work together on matters regarding employment in the country. This is also referred to as the ‘Norwegian Model’.

“Norway is a pretty unionised country, and the regulations surrounding working life in Norway are mainly based on a mixture of laws and collective agreements,” Jan Olav Andersen, union leader for the Electricity and IT Association (ELogIT Forbundet), explained to The Local.

READ MORE: What foreign residents in Norway should know about workers’ unions

To decide on the rules and regulations that will govern working life, trade unions negotiate with employers’ organisations every few years to develop collective bargaining agreements which determine everything from wages to parental leave. In Norwegian, these are called tariffavtale.

Collective bargaining agreements are negotiated throughout the spring, and negotiations for some of the most prominent sectors will regularly make the domestic headlines. Before the negotiations, unions will typically announce what they expect from the talks. This year, employee organisations have said that solid salary growth is expected, due to a high cost of living, inflation and low wage rises throughout the last few years. 

The agreement itself is a contract which regulates employment conditions, for example, stipulating that all employees with a particular job title must receive a salary within a specific pay band, as well as holiday allowance, overtime pay, working hours, and other benefits.

The breakdown of these negotiations leads to strikes and lock outs. Industrial action is a legal part of the Norwegian working model, provided they are announced and not unsanctioned. 

As a result of the strength of the collective bargaining agreements, more than two million people are part of unions. However, some unions have much higher membership rates than others. For example, the service industry has a much lower union membership than the municipal sector, which is heavily unionised. 

Workers in unions do not need to negotiate over salaries, and if a worker is in a union, their contract will be regulated by a collective bargaining agreement. Unions cover both the public and private sectors in Norway. 

“We negotiate collectively at both a national and a company level. If you are not a member of a union, then you will have to act on your own, as we used to say, ‘alone we beg, together we negotiate’,” Andersen said.  

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WORKING IN NORWAY

What you need to know about summer and seasonal jobs in Norway 

Norway's economy is doing well, unemployment is at record-low levels, and figures show the demand for seasonal workers is high. Here's what you need to know about summer and seasonal jobs.

What you need to know about summer and seasonal jobs in Norway 

Norway has made a strong recovery from the pandemic. The economy is strong, and unemployment is at an almost 14-year low. Companies are struggling to find labour, and competition for workers is fierce

With all the current buzz around labour shortages in Norway, it’s no wonder that the interest in job opportunities in the country is rising.

“The job market is really good now; the chances of getting a job – if you want to work – are excellent. Opportunities and the number of jobs tend to follow big cities – Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger. These are all cities where we’re looking for people,” head of information Sven Fossum at ManpowerGroup Norge, a leading workforce solutions company working in the country, told The Local.

Is there a difference between summer and seasonal jobs? 

Many may think that summer and seasonal jobs are interchangeable, but that’s not quite the case. A seasonal job in Norway is one that can only be done at a specific time of the year. For example, working a winter at a ski resort or a summer picking fruit are seasonal jobs. 

Whereas many companies in Norway offer contracts specifically for the summer to cover for holidaying staff or due to business being busier during the winter months. These aren’t seasonal jobs as they can mostly be done all year round. Summer jobs are available in a much wider variety of industries than seasonal ones too.

Although, there are some jobs that can only be done during the warmer months that may be classed as a summer job for example. Jobs like lifeguarding, working in hospitality at summer venues are examples of summer jobs that aren’t quite considered seasonal jobs.  

Another difference is that with a seasonal job you’ll mostly be competing with other foreigners to get a job, however you’ll typically be going head-to-head with more Norwegians for a summer job.  

Where is there a demand for workers to work in seasonal and summer jobs? 

There is a demand for people in several industries – call centres, logistics, sales, IT… Really, there’s a lot of possibilities,” Fossum noted, adding that there is demand year-round and that, at times, there’s no benefit to distinguishing between summer jobs and ordinary jobs.

“Our clients do have extra need for workers in the summer, but the jobs are the same all year round. Banks and call centers are typical examples of industries looking for workers at the moment.

“Many big companies need people to work in restaurants and hotels in Norway. Look at media reports; there’s a shortage of workers in these industries. These opportunities will also be here during the winter.”

When to start applying for summer jobs

When looking for a summer job in Norway, you should begin the search while it’s still winter. Large Norwegian corporates like Telenor and big banks like DNB like to start planning positions early, so recruitment for jobs begins early. According to Fossum, people should start looking for jobs in February. 

“You will be able to find jobs as early as February. When it comes to Manpower, you can register at our homepage and start looking for opportunities on our pages quite early,” the ManpowerGroup Norge recruitment expert stated.

What about the winter? 

Applications tend to open in September and will run through to the beginning of November for seasonal winter jobs in Norway. 

Outside of the cities and in smaller places, such as some of Norway’s most popular ski resorts, contacting the hotels, restaurants and resorts directly via phone or email to enquire about the possibility of applying for a job or any potential vacancies is one of the best bets for securing a job. September and October are usually the best times to start this process as businesses begin planning for the winter ahead.

READ MORE: How to find a winter sports job in Norway

You may need to be flexible when applying for summer jobs

Furthermore, Fossum believes people looking for jobs in Norway next summer should be flexible. 

“Be flexible when it comes to when you can and can’t work. Many jobs are getting more complex, and we need to invest in training for them. Some jobs have training periods early in the summer, at the end of May, or the beginning of June. It’s important that you as a worker can be present for the training. 

“I would also say that people who are able to work the whole summer will get ahead. If you don’t really have to, don’t ask for three weeks of vacation in the middle of summer. That’s a major part of the reason why there’s high labour demand in the summer – companies need people to cover for absent workers. If possible, try to plan a late vacation instead,” Fossum recommends.

Summer job advice for students

If you’re studying in Norway, a relevant summer job could be a precious addition to your CV later on.

“Every student in Norway stands to benefit from a relevant summer job on the side; having that in your CV means a lot later on. It shows you’re more than just a good student – you’re able to work and can be relied upon. So, if you’re studying in Norway, try and find a summer job,” Fossum concluded. 

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