The unions went on strike when they failed to secure acceptance of a 32-year-old demand for full pension rights from the age of 62 to be included in the agreements on pay and conditions.
Like other Norwegian employees, offshore workers have the right to retire at 62. But it must pay them to choose to work longer.
“The OLF has no mandate to include pension benefits over and above the existing ALP early retirement scheme in pay agreements,” says Hodneland. “The answer was no when this demand first came up in 1980, no when they went on strike for it in 2004, and if possible even more emphatically no after Norway’s 2011 pension reform.”
A pay rose of more than five per cent was offered to the unions in this year’s negotiations. That represents a larger increase than other groups of workers have received in settlements so far.
“Offshore workers rank among the country’s best-paid professions, with an average annual pay of NOK 960 000,” says Hodneland. “Most of them can also retire at 65. That already makes them Norway’s pension winners.”
Were the OLF to accede to this demand, it would increase the pay differential between offshore and land-based workers and thereby contribute to increased pay pressure and help to undermine the competitiveness of other Norwegian industry.
“We have been in dialogue with the unions in recent days,” reports Hodneland. “In the present circumstances, we’re a long way apart. This deadlock has a big impact on Norwegian society. We must therefore accept a responsibility.”
The OLF notes the following consequences of the strike.
1. Companies and society are losing NOK 200 million per day.
2. 1 000 employees in the supplies industry have so far been laid off as a result of the strike, and must now apply for per diem allowances from the welfare service at the start of the summer holidays.
3. Norway’s reputation as a reliable supplier of oil and gas to Europe and the world is under challenge.
“After trying everything in our power to contribute to a solution, we now find ourselves in a position where we as a responsible player must use the only weapon we have to help end the situation, and that’s a lockout,” says Hodneland.
Norwegian continental shelf (NCS), production figures for May 2012:
Average daily production of oil, NGL and condensate: 2 007 000 barrels
Average daily production of gas: 1 806 000 barrels oe (287 096 Scm)
Average daily total production: 3 813 000 barrels oe
Average daily production value from NCS: Approx. 1.8 bill. NOK
A total of 70 fields in production in 2012 ( The North Sea 56, The Norwegian Sea 13, The Barents Sea 1)
For more info:
Eli Ane Nedreskår, communications manager OLF, mob: 994 50 101
Bengt Eidem, government relations OLF, mob: 414 32 558.