“Pensions are not and never will be part of the central pay talks,” says Jan Hodneland at the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF).
“This demand from Industry Energy, the Norwegian Union of Energy Workers (Safe) and the Norwegian Organisation of Managers and Executives clearly shows that they’re placing themselves apart from all other private sector unions,” adds Mr Hodneland, who is the OLF’s director of employee policy.
Negotiations over the offshore pay agreement in late May broke down when the OLF was unable to present an offer which meet the union requirements over discretion pension benefits.
“Pensions represent very long-term saving, and the individual company must decide for itself which arrangement is most appropriate,” says Mr Hodneland.
“The OLF cannot impose centrally negotiated pension provisions on its member companies, and these terms cannot form part of an agreement on pay and conditions.”
Norwegian employer associations and unions have already agreed an early retirement scheme (ALP). The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the labour movement also supported the country’s 2011 pension reform. However, the demand from the three offshore unions for full earning of pension rights by the age of 62 conflicts with the intentions of the latter.
“An agreement on discretionary pensions over and above the ALP would give offshore workers significantly better rights than other employees,” Mr Hodneland observes.
“There is no reason why precisely this group, subject to this particular pay agreement, should have the right to a fully earned pension by 62.”
The demand for a discretionary payment of enhanced pension benefits is only one item in a long list of claims made by the unions with varying degrees of seriousness.
“These add up to an annual rise of NOK 70 000 per worker, or more than 10 per cent,” says Mr Hodneland. “They go way beyond what we otherwise see in society. The settlements for industrial sectors exposed to foreign compeition, which have been negotiated first in the current pay round, should once again provide the template for a solution, ” says Mr Hodneland.
Basic pay for an offshore operator averages NOK 597 743, according to statistics from the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises (NHO). Normal supplements raise this figure to NOK 730 048.
In addition, reported data for 2009 from the companies show that offshore workers also receive overtime payments averaging NOK 218 000. Overall pay is estimated to exceed NOK 960 000.
“With the demands being made in this year’s negotiations, total annual income for skilled offshore workers will top NOK 1 million by a good margin,” says Mr Hodneland.
“We hope to find a solution during the mediation process which is in line with the settlements for sectors exposed to foreign competition in terms of their impact on the rest of society.”
Further information from:
Eli Ane Nedreskår, communications manager, working life, OLF, mobile: +47 99 45 01 01
The offshore agreement in brief
The offshore pay agreement covers personnel working for the oil companies on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). It is reached between the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) and Industry Energy, the Norwegian Union of Energy Workers (Safe) and the Norwegian Organisation of Managers and Executives.
Submitted to mediation on 22 June, the agreement covers pay and conditions for some 7 100 employees on fixed NCS installations. This figure includes 5 900 operators, 850 drilling workers and just over 1 000 catering personnel. The great bulk of these people are skilled workers with two years of further education college and two to 2.5 years as an apprentice.