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Global Solidarity: Norway's Oil Union Defies Injunction Threat Over Trico

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10 August, 2005ICEM News release No. 44/2001

Despite threats of legal action, Norwegian oil and petrochemical workers' union NOPEF is maintaining its notice of a boycott against Trico Marine over the firm's union-busting in the US.

NOPEF announced today that it has received letters both from US-based Trico Marine Services Inc. and its Norwegian subsidiary Trico Supply ASA. Dated 20 July, the letters ask for confirmation, by 27 July, that the boycott will not come into effect. Otherwise, the companies are threatening to take out injunctions against the Norwegian union.

Trico Marine Services supplies shipping to the oil industry in both Norway and America. The company respects workers' right to organise in Norway. But in the US, it is actively anti-union.

On 11 July, NOPEF demanded confirmation, by 16 August, that Trico will "let the employees in Trico Marine Services Inc, USA decide themselves whether they will join a trade union or not, without any interference, harassment, discrimination or threats from the management."

Trico was also asked to confirm that, if workers at Trico Marine Services Inc, USA choose to join a union, the company will recognise it for collective bargaining purposes.

NOPEF told the company that, if no such assurances were received by 16 August, then "NOPEF's members in Statoil, Norsk Hydro, Phillips, Amoco, BP, CCB, Aker Base, Tananger, Aker Base Dusavik, Fjordbase, Vestbase, Forsyningsbase Helgeland in Sandnessjøen, Mongstad Base and Polarbase will be called on not to execute work which has anything to do with Trico Marine Services, its subsidiary and companies where Trico Marine Services, USA has beneficial ownership." NOPEF will also mount a publicity campaign and will press as many oil companies as possible "not to have any kind of financial dealings" with the firms targeted by the boycott.

That boycott notice remains in force, NOPEF's second Vice-President Torbjørn Teigland said today.

"We do not accept to be threatened into silence and do not intend to withdraw the notice of boycott, unless our demands are complied with," Teigland stated.

The Norwegian union has already persuaded oil company Norsk Hydro to halt negotiations with Trico on the chartering of vessels, and the Norwegian-headquartered energy multinational Statoil is also currently examining its options.

At the global level, NOPEF is affiliated to the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF).

The ICEM, in cooperation with the ITF, has been in contact with senior Statoil management on this issue and has emphasised that Statoil, as a major Trico customer, could use its influence to help resolve the question of trade union recognition in the US.

In 1998, the ICEM, NOPEF and Statoil signed the oil sector's first-ever globally applicable agreement on industrial relations. This covers basic trade union rights, health, safety and the environment, information and training. In March 2001, an updated and further strengthened version of the agreement was concluded. This new agreement takes full account of the UN's Global Compact initiative, under which multinationals commit themselves to promote trade union rights and other human rights.