Striking Workers Shut Down Oil Fields
OSLO, Norway (AP) _ Striking workers began shutting down oil fields Sunday after last minute talks failed to settle a labor dispute, the union said.
The Norwegian Federation of Oil Workers said in a statement it saw no end in sight to the strike, which began midnight Saturday.
Norway’s North Sea fields produced 1.63 million barrels a day of oil and 1.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas a month in April. Norway and Great Britain are Europe’s largest petroleum producers.
Municipalities Minister Johan J. Jakobsen, acting head of government while Prime Minister Jan P. Syse is abroad, summoned union leaders and business representatives large Saturday to urge continued negotiations.
″He asked them to keep talking because roughly 25 percent of Norway’s national income comes from petroleum, and a strike could be grave for our economy,″ said Kjell Finnerud, a spokesman for the ministry.
News reports estimated up to $31 million a day in lost income.
Negotiations resumed, but quickly deadlocked ″because the Norwegian Confederation of Business and Industry had nothing to offer anyway,″ the 6,000 member union said in its release.
The union said the 2.5 percent pay raise offered by the business confederation was less than half of its demand.
The confederation said the union’s members average annual wage of $49,000 is already 85 percent higher than the average wage in mainland industry.