Strike in private sector ends

On 9 May 2000, the State Mediator's proposal for a revised collective agreement in the Norwegian private sector was approved by the LO trade union confederation and the NHO employers' confederation. The conclusion of the agreement brought an end to the major strike which started on 3 May, and prevented the planned escalation of the dispute.

In the early hours on Tuesday 9 May 2000, the State Mediator's proposal for a revised collective agreement in the private sector was approved by the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisasjonen i Norge, LO) and the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry (Næringslivets Hovedorganisasjon, NHO). The conclusion of the agreement brought an end to the strike initiated on 3 May (NO0004188F), and prevented the planned escalation of the dispute on 9 May.

The ballot on the original draft agreement held on 28 April demonstrated the dissatisfaction felt by a majority of LO's members (nearly two-thirds of those voting opposed it), and led to 84,000 members going on strike. The leadership of LO met with the leadership of NHO on Sunday 7 May in what was seen as an exploratory meeting. The meeting made it clear that the parties were ready to pick up the pieces and resume negotiations. On Monday 8 May, LO handed new demands to NHO. The parties started talks with help from the State Mediator, and managed to reach an agreement after 12 hours of negotiations.

Several revisions were made to the original proposal. The new agreement stipulates a general wage increase of NOK 1.50 per hour (as opposed to the original NOK 0.75), with supplementary increases for groups with low wages of NOK 1.50 (originally NOK 1.00) and NOK 2.00 (originally NOK 1.25). In 2001, no new wage bargaining will take place, but the parties agreed to a NOK 1.00 general wage increase for the year, and the same increases for low-wage groups as in 2000. Alterations were also made to the proposed timetable for the introduction of an additional week of annual leave, whereby two extra days will now be introduced in 2001, rather than the single extra day originally proposed. The proposed extension of the agreement period to three years was withdrawn, and the new agreement will thus run for the normal two years. A commitment to consider further the so-called "competence" (skills and training) reform and the financing of subsistence during continuing vocational training was also incorporated into the new agreement.

The result goes beyond the earlier moderate aspirations based on the incomes policy framework set by the joint committee on wage settlements in 1999 (NO9903120F). The leader of LO, Yngve Hågensen, is satisfied with the result, and argues that, contrary to some beliefs, the result is not the end of the "social pact" on incomes policy or of the main objective of moderation. The new agreement will be put to another membership ballot in LO by 25 May, and most commentators believe that LO's members will this time vote in favour of the new proposal. The proposal was unanimously approved by the members of LO's negotiating committee.

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