An industrial law expert warned farmers’ blockade of egg deliveries from packing and distribution centres on Thursday was illegal, and both farmers and their unions could be forced to pay compensation. Major egg-packing plant owner Nortura was not fazed by the protest however, and believed the egg war would be over by Friday.
Farmers blocked deliveries from Norway’s nine egg-packing plants on Thursday morning, following the breakdown of support negotiations with the government earlier this week.
Kurt Weltzien from the Institute of Private Law at the University of Oslo is writing his doctorate on boycotts as industrial action. “As I read the press release from the Norwegian Farmers Union (Norges Bondelag), and from what I have read in the media, this is illegal,” he told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “It is the physical hindrance, that you’re stopping a legitimate business by physically blocking it, which makes this illegal.”
The union also reportedly encouraged all members to go to their local store and hoard as many eggs as they could, to create a shortage. “This is also a form of boycott which is covered by the law,” said Weltzien. “This is actually part of the effort to make the blockage of packing factories more effective. The point of both of the actions is to prevent the consumer from obtaining eggs, so I believe these two factors must be looked at together and construed as one and the same action.” He said the factory owners had the right to call the police, or seek a court injunction banning the farmers from blocking deliveries.
Major egg processor Nortura, which is owned by the farmers, told NRK it had no plans to seek compensation or an injunction. “This has some practical implications for us, but we have received signals that this will be over tomorrow,” said communications manager Ellen Flø Skagen. “We have eggs to pack, and operations are going as normal in the packing plants. We’re relating to the signals we have received on the duration of the actions, an we are going to use the weekend to transport the eggs so that the situation returns to normal soon.”