Labour confederation may block oil drilling off Lofoten

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A majority of the trade union federatations making up Norway’s largest labour confederation LO may vote in favour of keeping the waters off Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja free of oil exploration. LO boss Gerd Kristiansen, however, continues to rally in favor of it, because of the jobs it can create.

News broke earlier this week that the leader of Norway’s largest trade union federation, Fellesforbundet, opposes oil drilling off Lofoten and its neighbouring coastal areas to the north. Mette Nord of Fellesforbundet won more support on Wednesday, when the leaders of both Handel og Kontor and El&It, which represent thousands of other workers in Norway, also came out in favour of evig vern (“lasting protection”) of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja.

News bureau NTB reported that on Wednesday, the national meeting for Handel og Kontor voted to follow in the footsteps of Fagforbundet and Norsk Tjenestemannslag  in supporting protection for Lofoten from oil drilling. “With a foundation like this, there won’t be any basis for a study of the consequences of oil drilling in these areas, Trine Lise Sundnes of Handel og Kontor told newspaper VG.

Environmental organization Bellona said the recent developments within the trade union federations can change Norwegian oil politics forever. “LO has always been the biggest promoter of opening these vulnerable areas (to oil activity),” wrote Bellona leader Frederic Hauge in a press release. “Now the winds are clearly shifting in the Lofoten debate.”

LO leader Gerd Kristiansen was unrelenting, however, as were the head of the union representing many offshore workers, Industri Energi, and, ironically, the energy policy spokesman for the conservative Progress Party, which doesn’t normally agree with union officials. “It’s hair-raising that Norway’s largest organization for unionized workers wants to halt creation of new jobs in a branch under pressure,” Øyvind Korsberg of the Progress Party told NTB. “These oil fields (off Lofoten) will give jobs to thousands of people, and generate great income for the state.” The major debate is due next spring, when the political parties also hold their annual meetings.

newsinenglish.no staff