Less than half of all workers in Norway are now represented by labour unions. The country’s largest trade union federations are teaming up for the first time to try to reverse the trend and organize more employees.
“We all agree that a strong labour movement is important for good social development,” Ragnhild Lied, leader of the Unio federation, told newspaper Klassekampen. She and her labour colleagues have formed a board and working group to analyze the reasons for the decline in union membership, what they can do to reverse it and what political measures can help.
“There’s a need for a stronger focus on the importance of organized labour from elementary school on up,” said Han-Christian Gabrielsen, the new leader of LO, Norway’s largest trade union federation. “The students are not learning about tariff agreements and unions in either elementary school, intermediate school or high school.”
The portion of workers in Norway who were union members continued to grow until the beginning of the 1990s, when the decline set in. By 2008 those organized made up less than 50 percent of all workers. Klassekampen reported that the portion today is 49 percent. Lied fears business leaders today are too heavily influenced by “American leadership ideology, far from our work life. We have to talk with the various union and work on teaching plans.”