The trade union federation representing thousands of workers in the industrial sector broke off talks this week with its counterpart, the industrial employers’ association Norsk Industri. The breakdown was expected, after Norsk Industri failed to meet any of the unions’ demands.
Pensions, meanwhile, reportedly are no longer the main issue in the talks, which neither side has expected to result in any major pay hikes because of cutbacks in the oil and offshore industries. The unions, represented by the federation Fellesforbundet, now are stressing measures to limit so-called “social dumping.” They’re insisting on extra compensation for work that’s physically located away from their main place of work.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported Tuesday how workers in Norway long have been compensated for travel costs, lodging and food when their jobs entail travel, in addition to getting a 20 percent hike in pay for the duration. Companies that use foreign workers, however, have avoided such extra costs by setting up subsidiaries adjacent to their customers’ place of business.
The unions are calling for an end to the practice, to put foreign workers on a more equal footing with Norwegian workers. No progress has been made in negotiations on that or other issues with Norsk Industri, however, so talks broke off and negotiations will now head for mediation. That’s due to begin after next week’s Easter holidays.