Norway was left with no choice but to intervene after a union of oil and gas offshore workers launched a strike to protest rising inflation, threatening the country’s energy resources amid global price hikes and Russia’s dwindling exports.
The Lederne trade union, carrying more than 1,300 members, began their strike on Tuesday as they demand higher wages to match the inflation rate hike. This caused the closure of three fields while further strikes were promised in the following days.
Based on projections, the walkout would plunge the country’s gas output by 292,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, or roughly 13% of the total output.
Fearing the repercussions of the strike would lead to deepen the current energy crisis, the Norweigian government stepped in and proposed a “compulsory wage arbitration” to end the strike.
“The Government is proposing compulsory wage arbitration in order to resolve the industrial dispute between the trade union Norwegian Organisation of Managers and Executives (Lederne) and Norwegian Oil and Gas in connection with this year’s basic national settlement,” the country’s labor ministry said in a statement.
“The parties have been unable to reach a solution. I have therefore proposed compulsory wage arbitration. The announced escalation has critical implications in the current situation, both in relation to the energy crisis and the geopolitical situation we’re facing with war in Europe,” added Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion Marte Mjøs Persen.
Persen added that “she is not happy with the parties shifting responsibility for the conflict’s consequences onto the Government.”
“The parties themselves are generally responsible for finding a solution in such instances. But when the conflict could result in such far-reaching societal impacts for all of Europe, I have no other choice than to intervene in the conflict,” Persen said.
Both parties have now been forced to a wage board that will arbitrate on the matter as they agree to end the strike.
Next to Russia, Norway is the largest source of the European Union’s gas imports, accounting for around 21% of the continent’s demand.
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