Mediator tries to end oil service strike

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A national mediator has called in those involved in a strike that’s disrupted or halted production at several oil platforms in the North Sea since late last month. Representatives for around 700 striking members of three labour organizations and their employers were set to start talking again Wednesday afternoon.

The striking workers are most upset over pension issues, and have been demanding early and full retirement benefits from the age of 62. The members of the labour organizations SAFE, Industri Energi and Lederne walked off the job on June 24 when their demands weren’t met by employers’ organizations NHO and OLF (Oljeindustriens Landsforening).

Leif Sande, leader of Industri Energi, and Hilde-Marit Rysst of SAFE, said “the most important” for them was to see whether the employers were willing to find a solution to the pension problem. The pension demands are aimed mostly at Statoil, which has acknowledged that it’s no longer offering full pensions from age 62 in line with government pension reforms aimed at keeping workers on the job longer.

Eli Ane Nedreskår of OLF told news bureau NTB that the situation has seemed deadlocked, “but if the employees are now ready to drop their demand for full pension benefits from age 62, we think there’s a big chance we can come to agreement through mediation.”

Nedreskår added that “we hope to end this strike as quickly as possible.”

The strike has disrupted or halted production on oil installations including Skarv, Heidrun, the Oseberg Feltsenter and the accommodation rig Floatel Superior. Statoil has halted production at Oseberg Sør and Øst. and on the platforms Huldra, Brage, Veslefrikk A and C, and Oseberg C. Production at the Sture terminal and Mongstad has also been affected, as is the industrial facility Tjeldbergodden in Nordmøre because its oil and gas supplies from Heidrun have stopped.

Statoil has been losing around NOK 115 million (nearly USD 20 million) a day. Analysts have called the strike “unfortunate” for a European market that relies on stable deliveries from Norway and it’s been speculated that government officials would eventually step in to end it.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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