Norway Oil Unions Break Off Wage Talks, Raising Risk of Strike

Two of three Norwegian oil-worker unions broke off talks with employers over pensions, the issue that led to their longest strike two years ago, raising the risk of a new walkout.

The unions, whose members account for less than half of the 7,615 workers covered by the negotiations, rejected the offer made by the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, which represents companies such as Statoil ASA (STL) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), the association said. Talks will now move to public mediation, where failure to reach a deal could lead to a strike.

“It’s regrettable,” the employer group’s main negotiator Jan Hodneland said in a statement. “We couldn’t accommodate their demands related to the inclusion of pensions in the collective-bargaining agreement.”

Industry Energy, a third union representing about 4,000 of the workers, accepted the offer.

The 2012 strike, which lasted 16 days and was the first by offshore oil-workers since 2004, cut off about 15 percent of Norway’s oil production and 7 percent of gas output. The government of western Europe’s biggest producer used its power to stop the industrial action as companies threatened a staff lockout that would have halted about 12 percent of the continent’s crude output.

The still-unresolved row centered around an increase in the age at which staff can claim full company pensions.

The negotiations cover workers at oil companies, some drillers and employees of catering companies supplying platforms. Workers were this year offered a general wage increase of 15,800 kroner ($2,680) and raises in other compensations.

‘Little Willingness’

Safe, one of the unions that broke off talks, said employers showed “little willingness to negotiate,” according to a statement on their website. “It’s now up to the National Mediator to find solutions that both parties can accept,” said Safe leader Hilde-Marit Rysst. The other union is the Norwegian Organization of Managers and Executives.

No date has been fixed for the mediation. The unions can’t call a strike before the mediation has been completed, the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mikael Holter in Oslo at mholter2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net Alex Devine, Reed Landberg

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