As the summer sun reveals the dust on the floor, social media in Norway is uncovering several incidents of exploiting employees. A felony so serious it has been depicted as being on the verge of slavery.
Workers defined as slaves
This spring, several businesses have revealed bad working conditions after routine control. On the Norwegian web page, Osloby.no, it is written that the police are worried about slavery in the Norwegian carwash industry. They claim to have met people paid 19 Norwegian kroner per hour. The employees are cheap labour for the superior. Also, the hotel, Oslo Plaza, has been threatened to close if they do not improve their work ethics. A 28-year old woman revealed to the Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet, that she usually worked an average of 11.8 hours per day even though the normal work hours in Norway are 7.5 hours per day. The hotel has until August to find a solution to the problem.
An improvement of today’s law on work ethics, can improve the work situation of today’s generation. During the weeks before summer break, young and hopeful seek work in order to earn money. This year is no different. The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Union (LO) is planning to conduct a so-called ‘’summer patrol’’. This patrol is supposed to visit different businesses and companies, and further report what conditions are like. LO prioritises these visits in addition to encourage unorganized employees to contact them about their rights.
‘’Take some air’’
Their first visit was at the Norwegian media house, NRK. Many young people working there were unsure about what will happen when their work period runs out. ‘’ To take some air’’, is a definition that temporary employees have had to deal with for a long time. It means that the supervisor makes the employer leave for a period of time in order to escape the rule of permanent employment starting after four years of temporary work. This spring, a temporary employee ran a lawsuit against NRK because the employee was asked ‘’to take some air’’. To the Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen, the representative of ‘’NRK super’’, said that the use of temporary employees is rapid because media houses usually work project based. However, this should not act on the expense of the employee’s rights.
In 2011, while the previous government was still in charge, the supervision on conditions at various workplaces and among workers was strengthened and supported with 10 million Norwegian kroner. The previous Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, underlined how important it was with effective and visible supervision.
A reduce in law
Today, 3 years later, the current Prime Minister Erna Solberg, claims that the previous party in charge did not prioritise employment and work politics. Therefore, she believes it is up to her and the conservative parties in charge, to focus on employment and safe workspace. Although LO believes that the working environment act is functioning. Erna Solberg, on the other hand, believes that there needs to be a change of law. A law that reduces the rules, and might further result in more flexibility and freedom. Because of broad scepticism towards this, Solberg explained that a softening of the rules would not turn into dramatic changes in Norwegian work routines.
Bosses can easily take advantage of employees who are unaware of their rights, and several incidents show that this is the case in various businesses. The summer patrol, among other instances, can help build this awareness. Only the future can tell us if the reduction in the law can also improve the rights of workers in Norway.
By Hanna Skotheim
Picture: Benkos Biohos