A guideline for tasks during strikes
A strike is a challenging situation. This brochure is meant as a guideline for union representatives, and describes the tasks of the union representative during the strike.
Unions and local unions have many important tasks in connection with wage settlements and potential strikes or lock-outs. This brochure is intended as a guideline for union representatives. It is of great importance that you are well familiarised with its content so we can avoid mistakes and additional work.
Wage settlement is one of the most important issues for our members. This is the time when we can negotiate better wage and work conditions in our agreements. Negotiations are not always successful, and this can ultimately lead to a strike in order for us to achieve a good result. Strike is one of our rights; it is an important weapon in our struggle to keep or improve our wage and work conditions, but it is not something we choose because we want to. Strikes are serious and must be handled well.
Lock-outs are the employers’ weapon, the counterpart to our right to strike. A lock-out means that the employer, legally, prevents us from working.
The information in this brochure is based on the statutes of the union and established practice. In the brochure, we have chosen to use the word dispute instead of strike, as the tasks are the same in practice. In the event of a strike, the union will provide continuous information on our web pages, www.industrienergi.no.
During basic national settlements (usually every other year), the General Council of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) decides whether there will be central negotiations between LO and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) for all LO/NHO agreements collectively (a centralised settlement), or if the respective unions will negotiate with their employer counterparts for each settlement (union by union settlements).
In centralised settlements, the secretariat of LO negotiates with NHO, while in union by union settlements, the negotiations take place between the unions’ appointed negotiations teams and the corresponding teams from the various employer organisations. The time of negotiations is agreed between the parties, and it is customary to agree on a deadline for the completion of negotiations. It is at least as common for the parties to extend this deadline in an attempt to reach agreement.
If an agreement is reached, the outcome of the negotiations can be accepted immediately, or it can be put to a vote by the members. In many cases, and usually during centralised settlements, it is decided in advance that the outcome will be presented to the members for approval in a ballot.
If the negotiations do not lead to an agreement, both or one of the parties may demand a termination of negotiations. The breakdown must immediately be reported to the Office of the National Mediator. At the same time, the employer organisation and the National Mediator will receive notification of resignation for/amongst those members affected by the broken down negotiations.
If the National Mediator, when notified of this, finds that work stoppage in the area in question would harm public interests, he must, under the law, ban work stoppage/dispute until mediation has been attempted. Together with the parties he will then determine a date for mediation, a deadline for the completion of the mediation, etc. The parties are then subject to the National Mediator, and he will during meditation attempt to reach an agreement between the parties.
Mediation breakdown, resignation
Ten days after the National Mediator banned work stoppage, one of the parties or both, may demand an end to mediation, and state which employees will be in taken out in conflict (submit notification of resignation) should mediation not lead to an agreement within the determined deadline for completion.
Information regarding which enterprises will be affected and what members will be taken out in conflict will be published and sent to the involved union representatives immediately after the employer organisation and the National Mediator have been notified.
Agreement or dispute
Should the National Mediator find reason to do so, he can choose to present the parties with a proposal which might lead to an agreement. It is then up to the parties whether to accept the proposal, or put it to a vote amongst their members.
In most cases, the National Mediator will not present a proposal until he knows the parties can reach an agreement. He might have arrived at this conclusion after having presented one or more so-called outlines.
If the proposal is put to the vote, a dispute can arise if the proposal is defeated. Of course, there could also be a dispute if one or more of the parties reject the proposal. Ultimately it is up to the executive board of the union/LO to decide whether the members will be taken out in conflict. The executive board has decided that the negotiation team decides whether to enter a dispute.
“If an agreement is reached, the outcome of the negotiations can be accepted immediately, or it can be put to a vote by the members.”
The scope of the dispute
A possible work stoppage will, in principle, only include the unionised employees within the affected settlement areas for whom notification of resignation has been given. Employers not included in the dispute must not perform tasks which would otherwise be performed by the striking employees. Other groups who are not affected by the dispute notification, and who do not perform barred work in their workplace, will normally not be affected by the dispute. ID cards should be issued to these employees out of consideration for the pickets.
The employer should, in principle, cover per diem, accommodation and return travel for employees who are on business trips/assignment when they enter a dispute. This can cause some discussion, and the practical execution should be discussed with the employer before the dispute is implemented. For instance, the parties may agree that return tickets are booked when making travel arrangements and that travel advances or similar are paid.
The owner and executive management of the company can also try to mitigate the effect of the dispute by performing tasks themselves. (See separate item for apprentices)
Thebranch’s and local union’s tasks during a dispute
In general, we would like to stress that in connection with a dispute situation it is the branch committee who bears the main responsibility for the tasks assigned to the associations and local unions. As a result, the branch committee should, as soon as it becomes evident there will be a dispute, summon the presidents of the local unions for a meeting to brief them on the practical aspects of the dispute implementation. This liaison body should comprise the branch committee and the local union presidents, and should be functional for the duration of the dispute. The union can then be assured that it is able to contact the individual companies with the necessary information at any given time through the branch committees/local union committees.
The local union committee will be the local dispute committee at the company.
It is too late to start preparations when a dispute is unavoidable. Unions and local unions have a great responsibility to prepare for such a situation well ahead of a possible dispute.
A strike committee must be appointed and lists of who will picket at what times must be prepared. Picket vests are available by contacting the respective union.
E-mail address and mobile phone lists for members will be a useful tool in regard to organising and information. You should therefore have such lists from day one.
Striking employees will generally not have access to their workplace and should therefore think through what they have in their lockers and desks.
The basic agreement states that the parties in the company must agree on how to stop and start work well before a dispute. The goal is to maintain safety and protect values.
During strikes, the main principle for all our local unions is that all work at each company is blocked. In this connection, the local union must discuss with the company possible dispensations for personnel who must be present to secure the equipment and similar, and that necessary measures are made against fires, theft and so on. Usually, this involves dispensation for a guard, but could also be relevant for other groups.
In terms of normal run-down in connection with a work stoppage, we make reference to Section 3-3 of the Main Settlement. Local parties may agree on the necessary dispensation to stop production. We stress that this can only be founded on technical and security-related considerations. These agreements will not be valid until approved by the union and the employer organisation. Run-down agreements must therefore be processed well ahead of a possible dispute entering into effect.
Within the electro-chemical industry, the union and Norsk Industri have an industry agreement which the companies and local unions cannot deviate from in local run-down agreements.
Safety work in the event of industrial disputes
In the event of industrial disputes, the responsible party shall implement necessary measures to maintain a satisfactory level of safety.
The employer and employees in the individual enterprise shall, in advance, enter into an agreement for safety work in the event of an industrial dispute. Such agreements shall contain
a) A run-down agreement: How activities will be phased out and wells secured in accordance with the applicable well programme, and which functions and positions are part of this work.
b) A safety staff agreement: Which functions and positions are part of the safety work after the shutdown has been carried out and completed, and what the safety crew is to do.
The employees shall participate in necessary safety work according to such agreement prior to halting work.
The safety crew shall be described in the facility’s general crew plan.
In terms of other dispensations, these must be approved by the parties centrally, i.e. LO or the respective union. The procedure in such instances is that the company submits an application to its employer organisation – and it is then the employer organisation and LO/the union which decide whether to grant the application.
Companies not affiliated a confederation/NHO, submit the application directly to the union, which then processes the application and makes a decision whether to grant a dispensation.
Our local unions/branches must not communicate their view on such applications before being contacted by the union.
The status of any contracted personnel who perform work which is part of the company’s normal production, must be discussed with the company management. They are not to perform work that the striking employees usually perform. In our view, such people cannot be working during a dispute and our recommendation is that they are laid off.
As regards contractor assignments in Norway being performed by foreign companies with foreign workers, these can only take place if it is an actual contractor assignment with a separate management, its own employees and in a clearly delineated area.
Example: Installing a machine with own technicians and own work management.
Such work will not be hindered, but our members cannot be expected to assist, in connection with e.g. welding or crane operations. If the assignment requires such auxiliary services, it must be halted the moment such assistance is needed.
The union must be contacted in cases where there is doubt concerning what is enterprise and what is contracted assignment.
“In the event of industrial disputes, the responsible party shall implement necessary measures to maintain a satisfactory level of safety.”
Transfer of production
It is the opinion of the union that members of foreign unions must not take on any form of production that would have been performed at the company during the dispute. This applies to transfer of production from a foreign-owned subsidiary in Norway to another country. Example: a company steps up production in Sweden to compensate for the disruption in Norway.
The union also asks that members of foreign unions refuse to carry out work that has been transferred from a Norwegian company, outsourced, such as completion of products. In cases where there is suspicion that this is happening, the union must be contacted.
In its contact with the company, the local union committee must raise the issue of the relationship with other employee groups, such as work supervisors, etc. These must not, in the view of the union, perform tasks other than what they do on a daily basis. These groups must therefore under no circumstance perform work that has been barred during the dispute.
Pickets must be instructed to always behave in a dignified manner. Strike-breakers and blockade breakers must be rejected in a polite, but firm, manner.
The primary task of the pickets is to make sure that no one performs work that our members normally would perform. If attempts at strikebreaking are discovered, this must be reported immediately to the branch committee and the district office of the LO. If such a development is not stopped locally, the union must be notified. It is of great importance that those assigned to be pickets are firm, but at the same time calm and dignified, so that they do not escalate situations unnecessarily.
Contact meetings with the company
During a dispute there could be a need to have a certain level of contact with the company. It is recommended that you agree concerning the level of this contact and when to hold any such meetings.
Local union office
Local unions at many of the companies have their own office. It is likely that most local union committees would want to use these offices during a dispute situation. In the view of the union, it would be natural for the company to grant access to such premises. You should therefore make an agreement in advance as to who will have access to the local union office and who can be granted access under a further agreement. Should the local union nevertheless be refused access to the office at the company in question, the local union committee, after consulting with the branch executive committee or the local LO unit, seek to establish an office outside of the company.
Agreements on local union offices in the electro-chemical industry is part of the industry-wide run-down agreement
During a dispute, the branch committee must ensure that regular information meetings are held. This will contribute to providing the necessary communication in connection with the dispute, and that the required control is exerted. The branch committee must ensure that the information meetings address issues that have significance for the current dispute, and practical questions that affect the respective local community and company. Members must attend the information meetings they are summoned to.
When several local unions within the same branch are on strike, it would be natural to hold joint information meetings. If this is not possible and the meetings must be held for each company, and the branch committee must make sure it is represented during these meetings.
Shift workers shall during the dispute only be deducted for the hours they should have been at work according to the roster. Days off according to the roster shall not be deducted. Dispute contributions will be paid for lost working hours (documented loss of labour).
Members who are on sick leave when the dispute starts, will receive sickness benefit as usual and pay dues. Members who come off sick leave during the dispute, will receive normal contributions from the same date. The company’s duty to pay sickness benefit ceases during the dispute, but applies once again at the end of the dispute. Sickness benefit during the dispute, including the employer’s period, is paid for by the National Insurance Scheme.
During a strike, holiday that has been agreed before notification of resignation will take place as normal, according to Sections 6 and 7 of the Holidays Act. The company may not change the time of agreed holiday due to the strike. If the company does not disburse holiday pay, the holiday is regarded as not having been taken (Section 9, item 4 of the Holidays Act). As agreed holiday shall take place as normal during a strike, holiday pay must also be paid as normal (Section 11, Items 1 and 4 of the Holidays Act).
Contributions during strikes
Daytime employees (37.5 hrs./week) NOK 200,-/hr.
Employees on 2 shifts (36.5 hrs./week) NOK 206,-/hr.
Employees on 3 shifts (35.5 hrs./week) NOK 211,-/hr.
Employees on continuous shift and offshore (33.6 hrs./week) NOK 223,-/hr.
The branch distributes the dispute contributions and exerts the necessary control during the work stoppage.
No later than one month after the end of the dispute, the branch will submit a complete and revised account of the costs incurred during the dispute.
Members who take on other employment in companies not affected by a strike are not eligible for contributions.
In connection with disputes, the executive committee may demand additional dues among those members not affected by the dispute.
It is normal that companies lay off non-union members during a dispute. Unionised members are only subject to the following provisions:
Dispute in own company
Employees who are not affected by a dispute in their own company, can be laid off under Section 8-1 of the Basic Agreement, unless they can otherwise be sensibly employed. In such cases, the employees must be given 14 days’ notification. Under Section 8-5 there is a special provision for conditional notification. The employee who may be affected by the lay-off, must be notified as far in advance as possible.
Lay-offs due to disputes in other companies
Disputes in other companies can cause difficulties, resulting in reasonable grounds for lay-offs under Section 8-1 of the Basic Wage Agreement. In such cases, the provisions for 14 days notification do not apply unconditionally. However, the company is obligated to provide as much notification as possible, cf. Section 8-3, Item 4. This type of lay-off is eligible for unemployment benefit/daily unemployment allowance unless the result of the dispute causing the lay-off has consequences for the wage and working conditions for those who are laid off.
The basic agreement between the Norwegian Ship Owners’ Association and LO/IE regarding mobile offshore facilities as well platform drilling, etc. on permanent facilities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf contains similar provisions in Ch. VII: Lay-offs.
Conferences with union representatives
Before notification is given, the union representatives must be consulted. Minutes must be taken from the conference, and the notification period starts from the day the minutes were taken.
Act relating to the duty to pay wages during lay-offs
The employers’ obligation to pay wages does not apply to lay-offs due to a labour dispute, cf. Section 3, Item (3) of the Lay-off Wage Act.
Apprentices are not included in the union’s resignation unless explicitly notified, cf. Section 3-2 of the Basic Agreement. Apprentices may not take on tasks that were done by striking employees before the start of the strike. Apprentices shall, if not included in the resignation, continue their training during the dispute. As far as possible, the company will continue its training programme as usual. If the dispute makes it impossible to conduct training in a rational manner, the apprentices may be laid off for the duration of the dispute with at least seven days notice. Those apprentices who are laid-off in connection with the dispute, may lose their eligibility for unemployment benefits. We make reference to the National Insurance Act:
Section 4-22. Lapse in the event of strike and lock-out.
Daily allowances are not paid to persons on benefits who participate in strikes, or who are included in lock-outs or other labour disputes. The same applies to persons on benefits who do not participate in the labour dispute, but who become unemployed due to the labour dispute at the enterprise or place of work affected by the dispute, if it must be assumed that the wage or working conditions for the person in question will be affected by the outcome of the dispute.
Apprentices who are members of the union will at the time of lay-offs also be eligible for contributions on the same level as other union members who are included in a dispute.
Apprentices who, during the dispute, are undergoing the final course of the vocational school, will of course continue their training, and during this time, the apprentices are entitled to regular apprentice wages from the company.
A dispute will always cause financial strain for those involved. If the strike is prolonged, there could easily be tension due to financial issues. The branch should contact banks and other credit institutions where members have debt, to secure postponed instalments and interest for the duration of the dispute.
During a dispute, our solidarity will be heavily tested, perhaps not only between branch/local union and the union, but not least between us as fellow humans and comrades. Spend time assessing the situation, conduct yourselves with dignity, and try to think through the various situations you might find yourselves in before they happen – think about how you will behave. Be patient with each other as union representatives and try to inform your members to the best of your abilities so that they understand the situation and stand behind you who are leaders during a potential dispute.
The union wishes you the very best!
The statutes of the union
Section 26 Contributions during disputes
- When a dispute is implemented in accordance with these provisions, members who lose income due to the dispute become eligible for contributions amounting to NOK 67 per lost work hour. Shift workers and offshore workers will not be affected in accordance with the rules.
Members laid off as part of the agreement, will after having applied for daily allowance through their local Labour and Welfare office (NAV) and having had their application rejected, receive contributions on the same level as members in the dispute.
Members who without a valid reason fail to participate as pickets or do not take on other tasks during the dispute will be ineligible for strike contributions.
The executive committee may change the rates during the period.
- In order to be eligible for contributions, each member must have been a member of LO for at least two months before the start of the dispute.
In places where the union does not have branch, and where employees collectively join a union, the executive committee may disregard the requirement for at least two months’ membership.
The requirement for any disbursement of contributions is that the membership is in full accordance with the statutes.
Members included in the Basic Agreement and unionised at the time of resignation, who due to the dispute discontinue their membership, are Strike-breakers and lose their eligibility for strike contributions.
- Members, who become ill at the time of the dispute, are eligible for contributions starting the day they are reported fit and present a doctor’s declaration. Members who are conscripted for military service when the dispute was implemented, become eligible for contributions on the day they are dismissed from the military.
- The branch will submit a full and revised account of payments incurred by the dispute one month after the dispute has been lifted.