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Getting workers more involved

Principles for and practice with industrial democracy in the Norwegian petroleum sector are under evaluation following two pilot projects on employee participation in the licences.

The findings of these studies have been assessed without employers or unions reaching agreement on what should constitute best practice.

Norway’s tradition of worker participation and management-union collaboration has been studied and discussed in two White Papers on HSE in the petroleum industry.

It was also addressed by a committee drawn from unions, management and the government and chaired by the PSA. In addition, the latter has launched a project on industrial democracy rooted in the tripartite Safety Forum.

Employee participation was the subject of a national tripartite commission appointed by the Ministry of Labour in 2009. The Safety Forum’s members, together with the PSA, were invited to share their experience with this body.

Employee participation was also the subject of a conference organized in September 2009 by the PSA under the heading “Power or impotence”.

This aimed to look ahead, draw on the experience of all sides, and discuss practice and principles in this area.

A report from the conference is available in Norwegian only (link)

“The conference revealed big differences within the industry in terms both of the way participation is practised and how the players facilitate it,” comments Tone Gulbrandsen at the PSA.

Employee participation and tripartite collaboration were key issues for the Safety Forum during 2009, partly as contributions to a planned White Paper in 2010 on HSE in Norwegian working life.

The pilots for industrial democracy in two selected licences have also been assessed and discussed by the forum, and revealed deficiencies in company organisation, follow-up and execution.

Nevertheless, the companies concerned did not want to relaunch the projects but preferred to stick with established forms of and arenas for collaboration.

The union members of the forum rejected this perspective, and the issue remains under discussion.