Striking oil workers ‘could cost Norway billions’

Continued industrial action by Norway’s North Sea oil and gas workers could cost the country several billion kroner, according to the Oil Industry Association (OLF). Sunday (June 24) saw around 700 Continental Shelf workers down tools in a dispute over pensions and rights.

The industry’s three unions, the Organisation of Managers and Executives (Lederne), Industry Energy (Industri Energi) and the Union of Energy Workers (SAFE), say OLF has backtracked on an agreement to allow offshore employees to retire at 62 with full pensions. OLF has also so far not acceded to workers’ demands for 14 days paternity leave, despite striking a deal on the matter with negotiators earlier in the year.

OLF negotiator Jan Hodneland said the unions had “completely unreasonable pension demands”, and are “imposing substantial costs on the companies and Norwegian society. The strike will cost roughly NOK 150 million (EUR 20 million) per day, so it will not take long before the bill tops NOK 1 billion.”

The comments have angered union members. “Forcing through a change in pre-negotiated arrangements over the heads of employees is arrogant”, Industry Energy and SAFE members said in a joint statement. “We won’t accept employers robbing us of our pensions, which is why we are striking.”