New strike threatens oil platforms

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As Norway recovered from two weeks of strikes by both public and private sector workers, another group has walked off the job in a labour conflict that ultimately could lead to the shutdown of offshore oil platforms.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the union representing employees of oil service company Baker Hughes broke off mediation and declared a strike early Sunday morning. The strike was affecting 114 employees working on 12 platforms in the North Sea.

“The strike can be lengthy,” warned Rolf Onarheim, leader of the SAFE union that represents the oil service workers, claiming to NRK that it will have economic consequences because it can lead to reduced drilling activity on the platforms.

Onarheim said the SAFE members were demanding what he called the “same standard agreement” that “very many” others have in the oil service industry. He claimed the offer Baker Hughes made was poorer than the agreement the employees had when the company was under previous ownership.

A representative for the employers’ organization representing  Baker Hughes, Jan Hodneland of Oljeindustriens landsforening, said the demands being made by SAFE were “totally unreasonable” and called the labour conflict “unfortunate.”

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