On the Picket Line

Norway’s government steps in to break oil workers strike

By Greg McCartan
July 25, 2022

OSLO, Norway — After forcing the end of a strike by airplane mechanics demanding higher wages by imposing compulsory arbitration on June 28, Labor Minister Marte Mjos Person did the same against striking oil workers a week later, this time citing the needs of the “war in Europe.”

Seventy-four offshore oil workers, members of the Lederne union, went on strike July 5 after voting down by a large majority a contract proposed by the employers and union negotiating committee. Union members face “high prices for electricity, growing inflation, and increased interest rates are being felt right in people’s pocketbooks,” union leader Audun Invartsen told the press. “Our workers need an increase in their real take-home pay.”

The union pulled members off three Equinor platforms, forcing the oil giant to shut them down. The Norwegian capitalist state owns 67% of the company. The union was ready to expand the strike to involve 382 members, affecting other platforms and companies.

Person, a leader of the Labor Party, told Nettavisen, an online newspaper, the government shut down the strike because it would have had “serious consequences” for deliveries of gas to Great Britain and Germany. In a press release she said the union’s plan to expand the strike would have had a critical effect in today’s situation, “both in relation to the energy crisis and the geopolitical situation with a war in Europe.”

Invarsten said in a statement that the government’s decision to end the strike was a “disappointment,” but the strike has “shown how strong solidarity, unity and democracy are” in the union. “The strike was the right choice.”

When contacted for an interview, a secretary at the Labor Department told the Militant that everyone except herself had gone on summer vacation.