Tuesday, 7 May 2013

361,000 Lost Working Days in Norway in 2012 due to Labour Disputes

The financial costs and productivity losses of the well-established system in Norway whereby unions (state and private) bargain centrally with the government and employers for higher wages, are no doubt high. According to Statistics Norway, 361,000 working days were lost in 2012 due to labour disputes. With an average salary per month in Norway of NOK 39,600 (USD 6,796) and assuming 20 working days per month, the labour disputes were worth a grand total of NOK 715 million (USD 123 million) in salaries. Apparently the unions pay for this (through membership fees etc, it's tax deductible), although at a lower rate than the gross basic salary. Remember there are only about 5 million people living in Norway when digesting the figures.

Here is how Statistics Norway reported it:

361 000 lost working days
About 361 000 workdays were lost in connection with labour disputes in 2012. This was fewer compared to 2010 when half a million working days were lost. 
A total of 41 800 employees in 11 labour disputes were affected by disputes in 2012. Human health and social work activities had the most lost workdays in 2012, with 252 500 workdays lost and 25 000 employees involved. This makes up 70 per cent of all workdays lost in 2012. This is due to the widespread strike by local authority employees. There was also widespread conflicts in central government, where 49 000 working days were lost.
Years with main settlements, such as 2010, usually have more lost working days than years with mid-term settlements. Main settlements take place every two years, which means that two-yearly agreements are entered into for most of the tariff ranges. In the years with mid-term settlements existing agreements are only revised, and this explains a large part of the year-on-year variations in these statistics. 
The 360,000 working days lost in 2012 was however an improvement on 2010 (in the midst of the economic downturn!) when the days lost were more than 500,000. But, it was a step in the wrong direction again compared to 2011, when only 526 (yes, 526) days were lost.

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