Police unions agree to merge

An agreement was reached in November 1997 to merge the two trade unions representing police officers and rural police officers in Norway. The new union will have almost 9,500 members.

On 12 November 1997, the Norwegian Police Federation (Norsk Politiforbund, NPF) and the National Association of Rural Police Officers (Lensmannsetatens Landslag, LEL) decided to merge their two organisations, in order to create Politiets Fellesforbund (PF). In referenda held in both organisations during 1996, almost 95% of the members voted in favour of the merger. The total number of members of the new union is now just below 9,500. The implication of the merger is that the new union covers almost 100% of all officers and trainees within the Ministry of Justice and Police and in police departments, both rural and urban, around the country. The leader of the new organisation is the former leader of NPF, Terje Ødegård, while the deputy leader, Arne Johanessen, was the leader of LEL.

Behind the merger lies a wish to combine the forces of two organisations representing very much the same occupational groups. In 1986, a cooperation agreement was entered into in order to promote closer integration of their interests, and especially cooperation in relation to collective bargaining. Furthermore, a merger has been seen as the only viable option since the members of the two organisations share the same employer (the Ministry of Justice and Police), income level and education, and since there has always been widespread career mobility between the two organisations.

It is expected that the merger will enhance efficiency and effectiveness at local level by reducing the number of local units from 80 to 60, and by eradicating the county level which was an intrinsic part of LEL's organisational structure. The new organisational structure is based on police districts, and in addition on some specialised agencies. The basic aims of the new trade union are to provide a better service for its members, and a greater force in the collective bargaining process. It is also expected that the new union will increase its influence in relation to the authorities, politicians and the media.

Along with the few other independent unions within the state sector, PF will be excluded from the negotiations between the state and the bargaining cartels over the sector's basic collective agreement. PF will only be allowed to join after these have taken place.

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