Agreement strengthens cooperation on incomes policy

In December 1998, the Norwegian government and the social partners reached an agreement to establish several committees for the purpose of advancing cooperation on incomes policy and of preventing unemployment rising. The committees' first report will form the basis for the pay settlements in spring 1999.

A conference on incomes policy was held on 16-17 December 1998, involving representatives from social partner organisations as well as the government. The main issues on the conference agenda were the economic situation and the institutional framework for cooperation on incomes policy. The participants at the conference were those organisations represented on the government's" contact committee" on incomes policy - ie the main trade union confederations and the largest employers' organisations.

The purpose of the conference was to revitalise cooperation on incomes policy. Yngve Hågensen, the leader of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisasjonen i Norge, LO), had expressed in November 1998 a wish to create a new commission to consider the questions of employment and cooperation on incomes policy (NO9811101N). The Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, gave his support for the proposal. Erling Steensnæs, parliamentary leader of the Prime Minister's party, the Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti, Krf), had proposed as early as in the summer of 1998 the establishment of a similar committee. The proposal received only limited support at the time.

The labour market parties came to an agreement with the government on the establishment of several committees, which will work to secure moderate pay settlements and measures to preserve high employment. The government's wish to establish a committee to consider changes to the provisions in the Working Environment Act (NO9810193N) was also discussed during the conference. According to a report in Dagsavisen (18 December 1998) the conference decided to set up three committees:

  1. an ad-hoc committee to deliberate the basis for the 1999 pay settlement. The committee will, among other things, work the continuing vocational training reform (NO9812103F) into the 1999 pay settlement;
  2. a long-term committee with a view to contributing to full employment; and
  3. an ad-hoc committee which will consider the institutional framework for collective bargaining and cooperation on incomes policy between the government and the labour market parties.

The committees' terms of reference and composition will be settled some time in early 1999. It is expected that all the main organisations on the employee and employer sides will be represented on the committees, which means a broader representative base than the last time a public committee on employment issues was established.

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