OSLO, Norway: A union leader, along with the labour ministry, said this week that the Norwegian government has intervened to end a strike in the petroleum sector that had reduced oil and gas output, ending a stalemate that could have worsened Europe’s energy supply crisis.
Earlier this week, the Norwegian offshore oil and gas workers went on strike over pay, the first day of a planned industrial action that had threatened to cut the country’s gas exports by almost 60 percent and worsen supply shortages caused by the Ukraine war.
Confirming that the strike has ended, Lederne union leader Audun Ingvartsen told Reuters, “Workers are going back to work as soon as possible. We are cancelling the planned escalation.”
Meanwhile, Labour Minister Marte Mjoes Persen told Reuters, “Norway plays a vital role in supplying gas to Europe, and the planned escalation of the strike would have had serious consequences, for the UK, Germany and other nations.”
As Norway, Europe’s second-largest energy supplier after Russia, is seen as a reliable and predictable supplier, its oil and gas is in high demand, especially with Russia’s Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline due to shut down for 10 days of maintenance beginning 11th July.
The Norwegian government has the power to intervene in strikes under certain circumstances, which have previously been used to end petroleum sector strikes to protect the country’s reputation as a reliable gas supplier.
In a statement, oil lobby NOG said, “We are glad to see that the government understood the seriousness of the situation and acted to uphold Norway’s reputation as a reliable and stable supplier of natural gas to Europe.”
While they are among the best paid employees working offshore in Norway, Lederne union members, like other workers, are concerned about accelerating inflation eroding their wages, with inflation in May reaching 5.7 percent year-on-year.
Last week, union members turned down a pay increase of 4 to 4.5 percent negotiated by union leaders and oil companies.
Ingvarsten said under the government’s forced settlement, workers will receive the same terms as the two other oil unions that had negotiated deals with employers, though specifics will be agreed later.
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