Norway’s newly expanded conservative government is still promoting job creation and rapid digitalization of Norwegian society, but in many cases the two are distinctly at odds. Employees at state-controlled telecoms firm Telenor are the latest casualty.
Telenor recently announced record-high financial results for 2017 and dividends that will amount to more than NOK 12 billion for shareholders, the Norwegian state being among the largest. Since the state owns 54 percent of Telenor, more than half of the huge dividend payout will land in the state treasury.
The dividends are a result of cost-cutting that in turn in is a result of digitalization that’s making people redundant. Heads have already been rolling and now Telenor plans to slash its number of full-time employees around the world by 2,000 a year over the next three years. More than 10 percent of the cuts will be made in Norway, as nearly 800 jobs are eliminated.
“It’s a consequence of operations becoming more digital,” Telenor’s CEO Sigve Brekke told Nettavisen. More than 80 jobs, for example, were cut in Harstad late last year.
It presents a paradox for the government, which wrote in its recently released platform that it was seeking to “gain” from “digital projects and structural reform.” In this case, the gain in profits results comes at the expense of jobs.