Norway Avoids Strike as Industrial Workers Agree on Wage Accord

Norwegian industrial workers at companies including Aker Solutions ASA (AKSO) agreed to a new collective bargaining deal on wages and pensions, averting a strike that threatened to curb Norway’s sluggish economy.

The parties agreed to a general wage increase of 0.75 krone and to complete an agreement on pensions by the end of 2015, according to statement from The Federation of Norwegian Industries.

“It was more expensive than I had hoped for, but it’s an accord that I can accept,” said Stein Lier-Hansen, head of the federation, in the statement.

The accord with unions, including the United Federation of Trade Unions, covers about 33,000 private sector workers. The deal sets a benchmark for broader talks between another 600,000 unionized workers and the 85,000 companies in the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, according to labor union spokesman Vidar Groenli.

Workers in Norway are seeking more of the country’s oil riches as Europe emerges from recession. Backed by an $850 billion sovereign wealth fund, wages in Norway last year were 55 percent higher than the average of its trading partners, according to a government study released in February. That slid 2 percentage points from a year ago, helped by a weaker krone.

Wage Increases

Norwegian manufacturing wages have risen 4.2 percent on average since 2004, compared with a 2.8 percent increase for its main trading partners, according to the government study.

Exporters including Norsk Hydro ASA (NHY) have struggled to adapt to the appreciation of the krone. Though the currency has eased 10 percent against the euro since the start of last year, it’s still 28 percent overvalued, according to a gauge of purchasing power by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The government sees unemployment rising to 3.75 percent next year while the euro-area average is about 11.9 percent. Norway’s $500 billion economy grew 2 percent in 2013 after expanding 3.4 percent in 2012. Norges Bank last week cut its growth forecast for 2014 to 1.75 percent from 2 percent estimated in December.

To contact the reporters on this story: Saleha Mohsin in Oslo at smohsin2@bloomberg.net; Stephen Treloar in Oslo at streloar1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jonas Bergman at jbergman@bloomberg.net Alastair Reed

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