Norway oil workers reach preliminary wage deal, say negotiators

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 22, 2012 2:34 PM
Norway oil workers reach preliminary wage deal, say negotiators

(Reuters) - Norwegian energy firms and oil services workers reached a preliminary wage deal on Saturday, raising hopes the sides could avoid another strike after labor action in July hamstrung the world's eighth-largest oil exporter.

The sides agreed on a 4.5 percent wage increase plus an rise in various supplements, subject to a ballot by the 5,800 employees covered under a collective agreement, negotiators said in separate statements.

"Negotiations have yielded a new proposal for next year's wage agreement ... and a ballot to members will be sent out at the beginning of next week," said the Industri Energi trade union in a statement.

Oil services workers threatened to strike sometime in October after wage talks broke down in August and the sides were expected to go into forced mediation in early October.

Offshore production workers shut around 13 percent of Norway's oil output in a 16-day strike in July, and only returned to work after the government broke up the strike when companies threatened a full lock out.

Services workers, who were not part of that strike, said they were also ready to shut down part of the sector if their wages were not improved.

Norwegian oil workers are the best paid in the world, earning $180,000 on average, but continue to demand a bigger share of Norway's economic success amid Europe's economic slowdown.

The Norwegian economy grew by an annual 5 percent in the second quarter, the fastest in Europe.

Unemployment is 3 percent, the country has no debt and no budget deficit, and record oil investments are expected to keep growth high for years to come.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Sophie Hares)