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Last-minute agreement averts strike by Norwegian oil workers

11 April, 2013After several hours of mediation, unions and employers agreed a 3.4% pay rise on Monday 8 April for Norwegian oil and gas workers. The last-minute agreement averted a national strike that threatened to severely disrupt the sector.

Other than the oil industry, the threatened walk-out would have brought Oslo international airport to a standstill and could have closed down other key industries. According to Industri Energi (IE), the country’s biggest oil workers’ union and an IndustriALL affiliate, the strike would have closed down Mongstad and Vestbase the two main bases that supply the off-shore oil and gas platforms with food and other basic goods.

The unions said that they anticipated the strike affecting around 17,000 private sector workers if no agreement. The deal, affecting 156,000 union members directly, will set the bar for wage growth in all other sectors.

The Norwegian national trade union centre LO led negotiations with the employer confederation NHO and agreed on an hourly pay raise of NOK0.75 ($0.12) across the board for workers earning more than 90% of the average industry worker salary. Those earning less will get NOK1.40 per hour on top of NOK0.75 for a total increase of NOK2.15.

According to the leader of the LO national union centre, Roar Flaathen: “This is a responsible and fair agreement that takes jobs and employer needs into account and boosts the purchasing power of lower-paid workers”.

Norway is the world’s seventh biggest oil exporter and the second biggest supplier of gas and provides a large proportion of Western Europe’s energy needs. Strikes have become common in Norway over the last year because workers are demanding a larger share of the benefits produced by the country’s economic success.