The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) wants to restrict Croatian immigrants from coming to work in Norway, in a bid to prevent social dumping. The labour market in Norway continues to predict growth, and demand for more workers is still high, but anti-EU forces also want to keep out workers from Croatia.
LO has asked the current government to put the brakes on work-related immigration from Croatia, in what critics would call a protectionist move. Croatia is set to become the 28th member state of the European Union on July 1, and Croatian citizens will thus be able to seek work in other EU countries and those like Norway that are members of the European Economic Area.
Pressure on the market
Newspaper Vårt Land reported recently that LO officials believe immigration from countries with low production costs puts pressure on the Norwegian labour market. Their skeptism apparently stems from their experience after the inclusion of former eastern bloc countries in the European Union in 2004 and 2007.
LO deputy leader Tor-Arne Solbakken said the federation wants a transition period in order to secure better control over social dumping. He argues that immigrants who come to work in Norway should receive the same salaries and working conditions as other Norwegians, and LO is eager to prevent immigrants from undercutting Norwegian wage levels. In the transition requested in a letter to the government, Norway would close its border to Croatians for up to seven years, writes news bureau NTB.
This week, the anti-EU organization Nei til EU urged the government to use its ability within the confines of Norway’s agreement with the EU on economic cooperation (the EØS avtale) to impose a transition period like that called for by LO.
Employers’ organizations such as The Enterprise Federation of Norway (Virke) and The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) object to the proposed transition period. They argue that it would lead to even more bureaucracy, and that experience from the expansion of the EU in 2004 has shown that such arrangements have no effect on limiting work-related immigration.
Labour market still strong
Norwegian authorities have reported a rise in unemployment, but the country still lacks 32,200 people to fill job positions, according to the 2013 business survey conducted by the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service (NAV). This is a slight drop in demand since last year, by 4,500 people, which NAV mostly attributes to an increase in the available workforce.
A quarter of 12,200 companies surveyed expect to increase their employment in the coming year, while 11 percent expect a drop, reported NTB. Most of the job growth looks due to occur in the property and service sectors, followed by the mining and extraction industries. The building and construction industry expects somewhat lower growth, with declines due in wood processing and the graphics industries.
The majority of companies expecting to increase their employment levels are located in Oslo and Hordaland County, the fewest are in Oppland and Aust-Agder counties.
Views and News from Norway/Elizabeth Lindsay
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