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Background information on industrial relations in Norway

  • 20 Nov 2009
    Norway: Study examines state of corporate democracy

    Arrangements that ensure worker participation and co-determination in Norwegian workplaces have received substantial support. This is one of the conclusions of a new report by Fafo, published in August 2009, which was conducted among 3,300 employees in companies with 10 or more employees. Although workers’ awareness of the various schemes is low, the arrangements seem to function properly regardless of whether or not they are formally established.

  • 10 Nov 2009
    Norway: More optimistic forecast for Norwegian labour market

    New figures from Statistics Norway in September 2009 indicate that the downturn in the Norwegian economy is levelling out. The various measures implemented during the autumn of 2008 and spring of 2009 helped to alleviate negative developments in the economy; however, the recession will still have an effect until 2012. Unemployment is estimated at 3.3% in 2009 and 3.9% in 2010, and gross domestic product is expected to grow in 2010 following a drop in 2009.

  • 25 Sep 2009
    Norway: Agreement ends conflict between police union and state

    The Norwegian Police Federation, which represents police officers, managed to reach an agreement with the Norwegian state in July 2009 on working time and compensation for increased working time. The settlement marked the end of a conflict between the two parties that started in the autumn of 2008, involving widespread unrest and government intervention. It is debatable whether the agreement will be sufficient to counter the effects of the protest.

  • 25 Sep 2009
    Norway: Agreement on pensions reached in difficult public sector bargaining round

    In June 2009, the social partners reached agreement in a difficult public sector bargaining round, thus averting strike action in both the state and municipal sectors in Norway. The most controversial issue on the bargaining agenda was changes to the public sector pension scheme; however, following intensive pressure from the trade unions, the present arrangements were largely maintained, linking pension amounts to the length of employment.

  • 25 Sep 2009
    Norway: EFTA Surveillance Authority continues to examine social dumping measures

    In July 2009, the EFTA Surveillance Authority announced its finding that the Norwegian General Application Act complies with the free movement of services and Directive 96/71 on posted workers. However, it will continue investigating other measures to combat social dumping in Norway, such as a contractor’s duty to inform and monitor subcontractors regarding minimum wages and working conditions, as well as obligations under public work contracts on these issues.

  • 18 Sep 2009
    Norway – Greening the European Economy: responses and initiatives by Member States and social partners

    In its January 2009 “crisis package” the Norwegian government proposed to increase public spending by NOK 14 ¾ billion. The Minister of Finance stressed that the measures “have a clear green profile”, and funds were set aside for among others supporting the introduction of energy efficiency measures, research and development within offshore wind power production and increased investments in railways. The social partners at both the labour and employer side have over the last years adopted “climate strategy papers” and have put a number of climate issues on their agenda. An important driving force is the challenges the energy dependent Norwegian economy meet due to international agreement on reductions in green-house emissions.

  • 16 Sep 2009
    Norway: Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions holds annual congress

    The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions held its national congress in May 2009. The current leader will continue to head the organisation. The congress made a resolution to give continued support to the present red-green coalition government in the autumn general election. It also called on the government to postpone the implementation of the European Union postal directive and to carry out a re-evaluation of the European Economic Area Agreement.

  • 15 Sep 2009
    Norway: Flexicurity and industrial relations

    Over the last years the Norwegian labour market politics have been reshaped in the direction of increasingly more active labour market policies, focusing of qualifications as well as keeping people in touch with the labour market - ‘activation’. This policy is supported by both the employer organisations as well as the trade unions. The Inclusive Working Life Agreement is a tripartite arrangement with a strong focus on company level activities, focusing among others on long term sick leave. Life-long learning has been high on the social partners’ agenda from the mid-1990s onwards although given less attention recently. Questions regarding deregulation of contractual arrangements have not been an important issue in Norwegian labour market policies.

  • 19 Aug 2009
    Norway: Regional health and safety officers set for cleaning industry and hotels and restaurants

    A proposal to introduce regional health and safety officers in the cleaning industry as well as the hotels and restaurant sector was issued for consultation by the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion in June 2009. The system of regional health and safety officers has so far only existed in the construction sector. It is regarded as an important mechanism for combating health and safety violations and for stemming the expansion of the informal labour market.

  • 21 Jul 2009
    Norway: Employer liability introduced to combat social dumping

    In June 2009, the Norwegian parliament adopted new legislation giving employers in a contract chain joint and several liability over employees’ wages. The legislation is a follow-up to the government’s ‘action plan 2’ against social dumping. According to the legislation, contractors will be made liable for the obligation of subcontractors to pay wages, overtime pay and holiday allowances. Thus, all employers are liable for the pay of workers at the bottom of the contract chain.

  • 21 Jul 2009
    Norway: Government to protect transport workers in competitive tenders

    The Norwegian parliament adopted new legislation in May 2009 aiming to improve the protection for transport workers in competitive tenders. Up until now, employees of public transport contractors that do not win a new contract have run the risk of losing their job or their individual and collective rights. The new legislation will ensure that the transport workers in these situations are covered by the regulation relating to transfers of undertakings.

  • 02 Jul 2009
    Norway: Multinational companies and collective bargaining

    MNC play a substantial role in the Norway. A rough estimate is that 1/3 of private sector employees in companies with more than 10 employees work in foreign owned or Norwegian based MNCs. The collective bargaining system influenced by increased internationalization and market competition, but there is no major changes that can be associated by the strategies of the MNCs.

  • 29 Jun 2009
    Norway: New bill to offer greater protection against discrimination in recruitment

    The Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality has presented a proposal to parliament on legislative change aiming to prevent discrimination in employment. The proposal makes it illegal for employers to ask about pregnancy and family planning in recruitment and appointment procedures. Moreover, the proposal aims to strengthen the principle of objective justification regarding differential treatment of homosexuals in relation to appointments in religious communities.

  • 29 Jun 2009
    Norway: Rreduction in working time for job rotation schemes

    An amendment to working time regulations was due to be passed through the Norwegian parliament in the spring of 2009. The amendment aims to address the differences that exist between job rotation schemes and continuous shift schedules with regard to weekly working time. As job rotation is more common in female-dominated sectors and shift work in male-dominated sectors, the legislation is considered an important measure to ensure gender equality in employment.

  • 15 Jun 2009
    Norway: Agreement reached in private sector bargaining round for 2009

    During the spring of 2009, the social partner organisations in Norwegian working life concluded collective agreements following the bargaining rounds in large parts of the private sector. The agreements include a general wage increase for all employees, and additional low-wage increases in sectors with a low average wage. Company-level parties may, depending on the company’s financial situation, agree to postpone or ignore these nationally agreed pay adjustments.

  • 11 May 2009
    Norway: Public service merger stalls payment of unemployment benefits

    The Norwegian Welfare and Labour Administration (NAV) is currently unable to cope with the increasing number of applications for unemployment benefits. Lack of capacity to deal with the situation is being connected to the ongoing restructuring of the NAV services as well as the rising number of unemployed people due to the global economic crisis. In March 2009, the government announced extraordinary funding and simplified procedures to manage the problem.

  • 11 May 2009
    Norway: Fee imposed on unorganised seafarers ruled unlawful

    In December 2008, the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled as unlawful a fee imposed on non-unionised seafarers by a collective agreement; the deduction was considered to be in breach of the principle regarding freedom of association. The fee was meant to cover trade union expenses in connection with efforts to ensure that non-unionised workers received the level of pay to which they were entitled. However, the trade union concerned will now have to return the money.

  • 11 May 2009
    Norway: Expert committee to examine industrial democracy

    Systems regulating industrial democracy and other forms of worker participation are to be examined by an expert committee set up by the Norwegian government in late February 2009. The committee is to finish its work by March 2010. Recent research has found that worker participation often depends on company efficiency and profitability rather than democracy and fairness. Moreover, it can be difficult to fill the role of safety representative in the workplace.

  • 30 Apr 2009
    Norway: Highest wage growth recorded in 10 years

    Norwegian wages increased by 6% between 2007 and 2008. Together with increased inflation, this generated a growth in real wages after tax of 2%. The 6% wage rise represents the highest increase since 1998. Wage growth was at its highest in the financial services sector. Nonetheless, while the forecast for 2009 is uncertain because of the global economic situation, all signs are pointing to weaker developments in Norway’s mainland economy and an increase in unemployment.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    Norway Wage flexibility and collective bargaining

    Surveys and wage statistics show that pay systems such as productivity based or profit sharing bonus schemes have increased in importance over the last 10 years or so. In the banking sector appraisal based pay systems also play a more important role, together with different forms of bonuses and profit sharing schemes. The main form of wage flexibility is upwards wage flexibility, and pay systems are normally developed by the social partners at company level. For blue-collar workers, sector level collective agreements open up for company level bargaining, but do also set minimum standards and procedures that cannot be deviated from at company level.

  • 02 Apr 2009
    Norway: Government launches measures to tackle economic crisis

    In February 2009, the Norwegian parliament adopted an amended package of measures to address the negative effects of the financial crisis on the labour market. The new provisions follow measures already introduced to tackle the crisis in the financial services sector. Altogether, the whole package amounts to about NOK 20 billion (€2.25 million) and either partly or fully takes into account the demands put forward by the social partners.

  • 31 Mar 2009
    Norway: Wage formation

    Wage setting in Norway is dominated by a two-tier system of collective bargaining at sectoral and company level, while individual wage setting is getting more common for white-collar employees in the private sector. Compared to many EU member states, collective bargaining coverage rates are rather high. Norway has no minimum wage legislation. However, the extension of collective agreements - that was first used in 2004 - will provide some form of a minimum wage. With regard to the ICT sector where wages increased at above-average rates in recent years, collective bargaining coverage seems to be rather low while individualised wage setting is widespread.

  • 24 Mar 2009
    Norway: Employer access to employee emails curtailed

    On 1 March 2009, new provisions regulating employers’ access to employee emails came into effect in Norway. Under these provisions, employers may access employees’ emails if it is deemed necessary for the daily operations of the company, or if they suspect that the employee is breaching their contractual obligations. The adopted provisions differ somewhat from the proposal that was issued for consultation in the autumn of 2006.

  • 24 Mar 2009
    Norway: Government to widen employer liability in bid to combat social dumping

    Throughout Europe, the main contractor is increasingly becoming legally responsible for the unpaid wages of employees of its subcontractors. The Norwegian government is currently considering a model of joint and several liability. A proposal for how such a model may be shaped was submitted for consultation in December 2008. The proposal forms part of the national action plan against social dumping.

  • 09 Mar 2009
    The impact of the information and consultation directive on industrial relations — Norway

    The implementation of the information and consultation Directive required new legislation in Norway. However, as similar provisions already existed in collective agreements covering a majority of employees, the directive cannot be said to have had a major influence on industrial relations.

  • 02 Mar 2009
    Norway: Tackling gender inequality by extending paternity leave

    The Norwegian state budget proposal for 2009 made public the government’s intentions to extend the part of the parental leave period reserved for the father from six to 10 weeks from 1 July 2009. The purpose of this extension is to facilitate greater equality between parents with regard to childcare responsibilities in the home. Indeed, further recommendations have suggested that fathers should be entitled to at least one third of the total leave period.

  • 02 Mar 2009
    Norway: Collective agreement signed for engineers in private sector

    In late 2008, the two Norwegian trade unions for engineers concluded a collective agreement with the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise for members in the private sector. Negotiations became difficult due to disagreement over the rules exempting employees with a ‘particularly autonomous position’ from statutory provisions on working time and overtime compensation. Salary reviews for employees on parental leave and coverage of the working time provisions were also debated.

  • 23 Feb 2009
    Norway: Parliament set to approve EU services directive

    In December 2008, the Norwegian government placed a royal proposal before parliament recommending the incorporation of the European Union services directive into the European Economic Area Agreement, thus making it applicable in Norway. The directive has been controversial, not least in matters relating to employment and ‘social dumping’, and the proposal was put forward despite dissent from ministers of two of the three governing parties.

  • 12 Feb 2009
    Norway: Collective bargaining and continuous vocational training

    In Norway a number of issues related to CVT were high on the collective bargaining agenda in the late 1990s and until 2001. As part of the Competence Reform – where the social partners played an important role – adults have got the right to finish basic and upper secondary education. Employees also got the right to study leave (up till 3 years), and adults over 25 have been given the right to admission to universities and university colleges based on formal, non-formal and informal qualifications. The social partners never agreed on how to finance educational leave, and CVT has not been on the central/sector level bargaining agenda since 2001.

  • 14 Jan 2009
    Norway: New scheme to reduce sick leave absenteeism

    In September 2008, a new scheme was introduced in Norwegian working life aiming to improve communication between doctors, employers and employees in relation to sick leave. The scheme forms part of the Norwegian initiative to create an inclusive working life, one of its goals is to reduce sickness absenteeism by means of adjusting work organisation for people with health problems. The main objective is to get people on sick leave back to work as soon as possible.

  • 09 Jan 2009
    Norway: Temporary work agencies required to register activities

    The Norwegian government introduced a compulsory reporting and registration scheme for temporary work agencies in June 2008. As a result, the legal framework will also be altered making it illegal for employers to hire employees from agencies not listed in the new register. The purpose of the register is to promote responsible employment and business practices within the industry, particularly among foreign temporary work agencies.

Page last updated: 05 September, 2014