Oil Platform Strikers Ordered Back to Work
OSLO, Norway (AP) _ The government ordered 4,000 offshore oil workers Monday to end a day-old strike that shut down Norway’s petroleum production.
Municipalities Minister Johan J. Jakobsen said compulsory arbitration was invoked to protect the national economy. He told reporters a quarter of Norway’s national income comes from oil.
Jakobsen, acting government head with Prime Minister Jan Syse abroad, said production would resume as quickly as possible. News reports said arbitration was expected to begin in a few weeks.
Members of the Norwegian Federation of Oil Workers walked out in a dispute with the Norwegian Confederation of Business and Industry over wages and job protection against automation.
The union said the employers’ offer of a 2.5-percent pay raise was less than half the union’s demand. The employers’ group said offshore oil workers already average the equivalent of $49,000 a year, 85 percent above the average onshore industrial wage.
Norway’s North Sea fields produced 1.63 million barrels of oil per day and 1.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas a month in April. News reports said the strike would have cost Norway up to $31 million a day.
The strike began at midnight Saturday after last-minute bargaining failed to produce agreement. Odd Jan Lange of the state oil company, Statoil A.S, said some platforms could resume full production in less than a day, while others would take longer.
″They did it very quickly,″ said union spokeswoman Elfrid Stava Sandve of the return-to-work order. The union claimed that compulsory arbitration violates international right-to-strike agreements.
Norway’s last major offshore strike lasted 20 days in 1986 and ended with a compulsory arbitration order.