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What you need to know about this year's Norwegian wage settlement talks

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
What you need to know about this year's Norwegian wage settlement talks
This year's settlement negotiations are expected to be very demanding. Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Norway's 2023 wage settlement negotiations are underway. Here's what you need to know about this year's talks between employer and employee representatives.


More than half of all employees in Norway are covered by a collective agreement. Each year, the wages of the employees who fall under such an agreement are subject to collective pay settlement talks (lønnsoppgjør).

The negotiations are usually carried out between employer interest organisations and labour union umbrella organisations.

During the negotiation process, the parties usually discuss various issues, such as wage increases, benefits, and working conditions in Norway.

However, the 2023 talks are an interim settlement (mellomoppgjør), meaning that the key aspect of the negotiations will be the wage. Every other year, the main settlement (hovedoppgjøret) takes place, in which the entire collective agreement is negotiated.

This year, there has been a lot of media buzz in the run-up to the talks, as the cost-of-living crisis and overall inflationary pressure is making worker extra-attentive to the wage settlement.


The negotiating parties

The key players in the talks are the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS) on the employee side, and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), Norway's largest employers' organisation, on the employer side.

On Monday, LO chief Peggy Hessen Følsvik presented the employee side demands in the wage settlement to NHO leader Ole Erik Almlid.

These negotiations revolve around the wage framework for industry, which forms the basis for all the other wage settlements in Norway that will follow after this one.

Key demands and highlighted issues

As Hessen Følsvik pointed out on Monday, trade unions are asking for increased purchasing power, with a focus on improving wages for those with low pay and promoting equal pay.

The YS trade union, organisation also submitted its demands on Monday. As is the case with LO, YS also called for increased purchasing power.

Furthermore, both union organisations stated that the employees' share of the value created is falling and that the pay differences in Norway are increasing.

They pointed out that large managerial bonuses are particularly concerning.


"Larger profits for the owners and higher bonuses and management salaries show that there is room for the employees to also take their share of the value created," Anneli Nyberg of YS-privat said.

During the weekend, Hessen Følsvik said that the practice of low transparency regarding bonuses in state enterprises - such as Statkraft and Equinor - was also concerning.

"It is shocking, I would say. And the fact that we still don't get access to it (note: the information) is not at all acceptable," she told the Norwegian news bureau NTB.

The exact wage increase being requested has not been made public yet, but this year's price increase is expected to end up at 4.9 percent, so it is reasonable to expect unions to make a demand that surpasses expected price growth.


Demanding negotiations expected

This year's settlement negotiations are expected to be very demanding. If the parties do not reach an agreement by Thursday, the negotiations will be broken off, and the process will continue at the office of the National Mediator of Norway (Riksmekleren).

If the talks collapse at the level of the National Mediator, up to 185,000 LO members could go on strike.


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