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Monday, June 24, 2024

New commission to evaluate collective bargaining

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, still shaken by a wave of strikes by public sector workers, has appointed a new commission to examine how pay levels are set. Stoltenberg confirmed that he wants a commission to study the wage process in Norway following a meeting Tuesday morning with representatives of all those involved.

The meeting was called to clear the air after the strikes and an unusually hostile bargaining atmosphere. Stoltenberg had invited representatives from all the main labour union federations (including LO, Unio, YS and Akademikerne) and from the main employer organizations  includinigNHO, KS, Spekter and Virke.

Fellesforbundet and Norsk Industri were also on hand to share their experiences from conflict-laden negotiations, some of which ended with the government ordering striking public sector employees back to work. That’s highly unusual, especially for a government led by Stoltenberg’s Labour Party.

The strikes were mainly over pay and pension benefits and workers at some privately run nursing homes remain have since gone out on strike as well, demanding benefits similar to those in the public sector. Now there are calls for sympathy strikes by other unions that may involve as many as 160,000 workers.

Stoltenberg seems ready to discuss changes in how negotiations are conducted in the public sector, hence his call for the commission’s examination. The commission will be led by Professor Steinar Holden of the University of Oslo, who earlier headed a commission that led to inflation goals in monetary policy and how oil revenues should be used as part of finance policy. Stoltenberg said dialogue between political authorities and those involved in labour negotiations was “an important part” of political cooperation.

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