Tough bargaining in both the state and municipal sectors have ended up in mediation as employers fail to get close to the unions’ key demands. In the state sector unions were already concerned about the increasing gap between the low and high paid and the prospect of pay increases negotiated mainly at local level were seen as increasing the likelihood that the lower paid would again lose out. Public sector unions support the system where industry settlements set a benchmark and note that last year state workers got 0.5% less than the private sector. However, they also argue that the public sector needs to adjust its pay increases to ensure that certain groups don’t lose out. In the municipal sector too, unions are focusing on the 0.5% gap with the private sector but also argue that the employers have so far not delivered on key demands in relation to equal pay and low pay.
State and municipal negotiations in mediation
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Negotiations over pay are getting underway in the state and local government sectors with unions seeking to protect their members’ purchasing power and focusing on support for the lower paid. While unions agree that the system where the industrial sector sets the trend for pay bargaining is the right one, negotiations in the public sector need to address how pay trends have affected different occupations. This means there are arguments for a flat-rate increase that will benefit the lower paid, including the often undervalued groups like cleaners who have played a key role in coping with the
Negotiations in the private nursing and care sector have ended without agreement and so now move into mediation. The trade union position is to try to ensure that occupations are paid at similar levels irrespective of the collective agreement in place but there is not employer commitment to do this. Public service union Fagforbundet acknowledges that there will always be some variations between agreements but is concerned that major differences are becoming systematic. It points out that a cleaner in private nursing and care has a minimum wage of NOK 258000 (EUR 24000) which is around NOK
Five of the six trade unions in the LO Kommune bargaining group agreed to back the mediation proposal for municipal workers that was finally delivered on 24 May, averting strikes across the sector. The largest union in the sector, Fagforbundet, reported that the agreement would deliver increases on annual salaries of between NOK 12000 (€1165) and NOK 16800 (€1635). The settlement was ahead of that achieved in manufacturing this year, as the unions had pushed for a better deal to allow catching up on the lower settlement in 2021. The agreement also provides for increased night and weekend