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Survey of wages, working conditions and HSE conditions for foreign employees

Eastern European employees who work on petroleum facilities on land are paid in accordance with the minimum wage rates for unskilled construction workers, regardless of whether they claim to be skilled or unskilled. This is uncovered in a survey of two land facilities performed by the research institution Institute of Applied Social Science (FAFO) on behalf of the Petroleum Safety Authority.

The main topic in FAFO's survey was the wages and working conditions for foreign employees and how the employment and company migration has affected HSE work at the facilities. In addition, FAFO was to investigate the extent of the labour and service immigration in the petroleum industry, the motivation for using Eastern European labour and job satisfaction rates among Eastern Europeans at the facilities.

In the survey, very many employees from Eastern Europe state that they are not satisfied. There is also a wide-spread feeling of being generally discriminated against. Among Polish employees employed in Norwegian companies, 44 per cent fully or partly agreed that Norwegian employers treat Polish employees differently from Norwegian employees.

The General Application Act
The extent of the labour immigration from the EU's new member states to Norway has increased substantially since the EU membership was expanded on 1 May 2004. This is also the case for the petroleum industry.

In 2006 and 2007, the Eastern European employees (mainly Poles) made up between 14 and 25 per cent of the total workforce at the facilities in the survey. At the time of the survey, the share was around 20 per cent at both facilities.

The first general application decision came into force on 1 December 2004, six months after the expansion of the EU. The decision applied to seven petroleum facilities on land and set requirements for which minimum terms were to apply for the employees' wages and working conditions.

Confirms impressions from audits
The PSA has carried out several audits of this area. FAFO was involved due to a desire to use other methods and take a detailed look at the issue in more detail to obtain more in-depth knowledge and confirm or disprove the impression the PSA has from its audits.

The study confirms the PSA's findings as regards compliance with the General Application Regulations. FAFO found that Eastern European employees are paid in accordance with the regulations. However, the employees are paid in accordance with the minimum wage rates for unskilled construction workers regardless of whether they are skilled or unskilled.

Furthermore, the survey shows that many of the Eastern Europeans state that the work they perform in Norway does not correlate with previous experience or education.

The operator and main contractor at the two facilities also have a "supervisor responsibility" pursuant to the General Application Regulations. Information about the regulations was provided, and internal audits/inspections were also carried out and documentation was requested from subcontractors.

The report will form the basis for the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway's further follow-up of the General Application Regulations and the HSE consequences of labour immigration. We also believe that the report will be useful for various players in the petroleum industry and not least for other industries.

Contacts in the Petroleum Safety Authority: