WAGES POLICY IN NORWAY

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8543.1979.tb00960.x
Publication Date01 Nov 1979
AuthorJohn Inman
WAGES
POLICY
IN NORWAY
JOHN
INMAN*
NORWAY has operated
a
national wages policy for more than thirty years, since the end
of
the Second World War. It has had a considerable measure
of
success, and is an
established part
of
the country’s system
of
economic management.
NEGOTIATING ARRANGEMENTS
AND
POLICY
OBJECTIVES
Norwegian wages policy has had two essential characteristics. First, negotiations are
carried on regarding the main features
of
wage settlements in all industries through
centralised bargaining between the
Landsorganisasjon
(L.0.)-the Norwegian equiva-
lent
of
the T.U.C.-and the Employers’ Confederation (N.A.F.). As a rule a general
settlement, which applies to all industries, is reached between the two central organisa-
tions, and this is followed by negotiations in individual industries dealing with matters
specifically concerning these industries, but on some occasions the
L.O.
has only laid
down guidelines which the negotiators in individual industries have been expected to
follow, with the main negotiations and settlements taking place on an individual indus-
try basis. Negotiations for wages in agriculture and forestry, state and local government
service, shipping and certain other occupations take place separately from and after the
negotiations in industry but are in accordance with the pattern
of
the industrial settle-
ment. The overall outcome is that in response to this central direction wage settlements
follow a unified pattern and are not determined piecemeal in accordance with the
situation in particular industries. Another consequence is the avoidance
of
‘leap-
frogging’, i.e., competing claims between workers in different industries.
Both the central organisations have wide powers over their constituent members. The
L.O.
has specific authority to approve guidelines for trade union wage policy and to lead
wage negotiations, and the individual unions affiliated to the
L.O.
must have its
approval to seek a new wage agreement, terminate an existing agreement,
or
proceed to
strike action
if
negotiations are unsuccessful (in this case
if
it does not approve
of
strike
action the
L.O.
can take over the negotiations in co-operation with the union con-
cerned). Individual unions must follow
L.O.
decisions. But prior to wage negotiations
the claims to
be
put forward are thoroughly discussed between the
L.O.
Secretariat and
the individual unions (and also within the unions) and are subject to approval by a
meeting
of
representatives
of
all the unions. Actual wage proposals, before they are
agreed, are normally put to the members
of
the union concerned, and can be approved
or
rejected outright by a majority
of
at least two-thirds
of
the union’s membership;
otherwise the members’ vote is advisory and the final decision is taken by the
L.O.
after
hearing the views
of
the Executive Committee
of
the union concerned. There is
therefore not complete control by the L.O., but a balance between its powers and those
of
the individual unions and their membership.
The
L.O.
has substantial strike funds, to
which the member unions are required to contribute. There are altogether about forty
individual unions, most
of
which are organised
on
an industrial basis, but some
of
the
smaller ones are craft unions. Many white-collar workers are organised. The total
membership
of
the
L.O.
is
nearly
700,000,
and it is far the strongest non-official
organisation in the country. (The population
of
Norway is approximately four million).
The employers’ organisation has similar provisions for centralised control. All nego-
tiations with
the
L.O.
take place through the N.A.F. Individual employers can only
*
Formerly
of
the British Embassy,
Oslo.
and the Gwernment Economic Service.
347

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