They volunteer to serve, and Norwegian soldiers who accept assignments in Afghanistan think they should get better rewards for the risks they take. They’re demanding bigger benefits for service overseas, for their experience and for their families.
Negotiations are underway between the union representing military personnel (Norges Offisersforbund) and the Defense Ministry, reports Aftenposten. In addition to ordinary pay hikes, the soldiers and officers want a 25 percent hike in the special allotment for the mission in Afghanistan, from NOK 20,000 to 25,000 per month.
They also want to boost the family allotment from NOK 6,000 to NOK 8,000, and twice the number of days of leave (from 10 to 20) for child care.
The soldiers also want compensation for loss of expected income from overseas assignments, in case of illness. The demand applies for those sent overseas, whether it be Afghanistan, Chad or to anti-piracy duty off Somalia. The current allotment for foreign service is NOK 90,000 per year and is tax-free.
Soldiers are also unhappy that in Afghanistan, they currently have three different levels of pay, depending on where in the country they’re serving. One soldier wrote on an internal debate forum recently that “I do the same job whether I’m in Meymaneh, Mazar e Sharif or at Kabul International Airport. Equal pay for equal work!”
Military officials had introduced higher levels of pay for riskier work, meaning that those in Meymaneh earned more than those in Mazar-e Sharif. The soldiers note that it can mean that those driving a convoy in Mazar-e Sharif earn less than a cook at base campt in Meymaneh.
Defense Minister Grete Faremo declined comment in the midst of negotiations, noting that she and her staff were in talks with 18 various labour organizations within the Defense Ministry.
“But we have found responsible solutions with all parties earlier,” she said.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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