The great majority of oil workers in Norway, or 87 percent,, have agreed on wages for this year with the companies that employ them. The workers are represented by the two largest industry unions in the country, with a total headcount of 6,500. Another 13 percent, represented by a third union, will continue negotiations with the government under a mediation plan.
Oil workers in Europe’s biggest crude oil producer went on strike last year over pay disagreements with their employers, amid a global cost-cutting drive in the oil industry. The negotiations dragged on, and there was worry that the strike would affect Norway’s 2-million-bpd crude oil output if it escalated.
Now, the two trade unions, Industri Energi and Safe, said that they were disappointed with the outcome of the government-brokered negotiations, but they could not initiate another industrial action as per an agreement reached after last year’s strike. The third union, however, Lederne, is able to go on strike again, and it might do just that as it rejected the offer of the oil companies. Lederne represents about 1,000 people.
Tensions between oil companies operating in Norway and worker escalated in the first half of 2016, as the country’s economy reeled from the oil price crash. As a result, oilfield operators tried to cancel a scheme for gradual wage increases for oil workers. The latter were less than happy about it, and an early attempt to negotiate a mutually agreeable outcome fell through just minutes after starting.
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At the time, in late May 2016, 40,000 oil workers had been already laid off, and investments in Norway’s oil and gas industry were set for a second consecutive annual decline. The September strike idled seven rigs with more than 1,700 oil industry employees not working.
Oil companies operating in Norway include, besides local state major Statoil, also BP, Exxon, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and service providers Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, and Oceaneering.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.