Norwegian Employers, Unions Remain Divided as Strike Looms

As Tuesday's midnight deadline rapidly approaches, employers and unions representing Norwegian rig workers remain unable to reconcile their differences concerning a new wage and benefits package, Bloomberg reports.

Last-minute mediation began on June 17 between the three labor unions and the Norwegian Shipowners' Association, which represents the employers in Norway's offshore industry. According to union DSO, the workers will strike if an agreement is not reached by midnight local time. StatoilHydro will see four offshore rigs go offline indefinitely if the strike is not averted.

Talks between the organizations broke down on May 29. The disagreement arose when employers proposed to change the work rotation schedule to two weeks on the rig with three weeks off, while unions demand to continue working two weeks on with four weeks off.

"The main point for us is the rotation system," said Arild Theimann, spokesman of Industri Energy, one of the three unions involved in negotiations. Theimann hinted that, as of press, the respective parties were far from reaching an agreement.

The three unions involved are DSO, which represents Norway's Union of Marine Engineers and the Maritime Officers Association, SAFE, part of the Confederation of Vocational Unions, and Industri Energy. All told, the organizations represent some 6,000 workers on both floating and permanent offshore rigs.

Should the strike occur, StatoilHydro will lose four rigs: Deepsea Delta, Stena Don, Transocean Leader and West Venture. Each of these rigs has a crew of between 120 and 150, the majority of whom are members of the three labor unions.

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