Saturday, 23 June 2018

Refuse to give up in Norway's longest labor dispute!

I have been asked to post this by Svein Lundeng on behalf of the Norway Dockers

Harbor workers Håkon Pettersen (48) and Per Ove Hauan (59) have not received income for four years, but refuse to give up before they get their jobs back.
In a sheltered barrack in the harbor area of the small north-Norwegian industrial city of Mosjøen, Section 147 of the Transport Workers' Union has had its premises since the Second World War.
Behind the barrack the aluminum plant, the city's cornerstone company, run by the world's largest aluminum producer, Alcoa,towers.

Between faded federal union tabs, outdated PCs and meters with binders are Håkon Pettersen (48) and Per Ove Hauan (59). Together with three others, the guys make up the hard core of port workers who claim they are banned from the job of unloading and loading raw materials and metal from the aluminum plant.

When the conflict began four years ago, there were 17 dockers standing on the barricades. Since then several
has fallen from.

- Some have become disabled or retirees. Most people with children and mortgages have had to find a new job. One has passed away, says Per Ove Hauan.
Wears out the family.
He is a single father, and Hauan does not hide the fact that the past four years have been a struggle for himself and family life. Since the conflict started, he has lost 30 kilos.
Worstly, it has been the last 18 months after the Transport Workers' Association stopped the payment of strike payments to the dockers.
His son still goes to school. There are several things he would like to do together with him, but poor finances mean that holiday trips and other rides are put on hold.
Hauan tries as well as he can to explain to his son what his dad is doing.
"I usually say I'm working to secure his rights. From my father's generation we took over a relatively safe and predictable working life. We must defend our right to demand a collective agreement. We can not give up, he says.
It's not just the son who does not understand why not the port workers just give up and find new jobs.
The employer has always denied that the dock workers are banned, and in the local community people wonder what the battle is all about.

The guys at the barrack admit that the labor conflict they are facing is complicated.
"But simply explained, it is about the fact that hundreds of years of rights we union dockworkers have to do loading and unloading work in Norway are under attack. This right we will never give up, "says Håkon Pettersen.
At the entrance door at the barrack there is a red tab with hundreds of signatures. There are support declarations from Danish dockers who brought a check of 10,000 kroner when they visited Mosjøen.

Without financial contributions and patching the shoulder of individuals in the trade union, clubs and associations throughout Norway and Europe, we never could manage this, explains Håkon Pettersen.
He even has a cohabitant that helps financilly and has enabled him to work full-time with the dispute for four years.
In the first year he plowed through 50 years of contracts and negotiation references. The goal was to obtain documentation to build a trial.
What he work colleagues found in the papers strengthened them in the belief that the dockers had a strong case against the employer.
"This is a matter much bigger than us. It's about a whole profession and the whole of the trade union movement, "says Per Ove Hauan and Håkon Pettersen.

The harbor workers in Mosjøen have not been working at the harbor in the city since 8 May 2014. What happened this day the dockers and Mosjøen Industrial Terminal does not agree about.
As in most major Norwegian ports, the harbor workers in Mosjøen are employed by a freight and cargo office, and are rented on an hourly basis to shipowners and other port users.
The dock workers claim that for a long time there had been mess with payment for work done for Mosjøen industrial terminal. Deadlines were not respected, and payments did not match with the collective agreement or local agreement, according to Håkon Pettersen.
- We asked for a guarantee of missing salary if we were to perform further work. We were refused. We offered to negotiate but were asked to go home.
Shortly afterwards, the dockers were informed that their access cards were blocked and that they did not have access to the area.

NHO, which answers on behalf of Mosjøen Industrial Terminal, disagrees. They reject the dockworkers being banned and a conflict at the port.
- We received a written notice that the port workers would not work if they were not paid the disputed amount. The amount was not paid and the port workers failed to perform work, "says Deputy Director Thor Chr. Hansteen in NHO Logistics and Transport.
Port work was taken over by the terminal's own employees, who have since performed unload and load work at the port.
The harbor workers in Mosjøen had a 1957 collective agreement which said that all unloading and cargo work should be carried out by the port workers in Mosjøen Transportarbeiderforening.
"When a new deal was negotiated in 2017, the provision stipulated that the Sjawans should have the exclusive right to carry out the job was omitted," said Hansteen.
- Norway's longest
The conflict in Mosjøen is the longest labor dispute in Norway after World War II, and probably also the longest history of Norway, according to the Norwegian Transport Workers' Union. The union leaders in the association are stated above what is happening in Mosjøen.
"It's a very special situation. The dockers are affected by an illegal exclusion from the workplace, and are in a desperate situation that needs to be cleared up, "says Lars Morten Johnsen, chairman.
Several attempts have been made to resolve the harbor conflict in Mosjøen. The National Office of mediator has also tried without the parties finding a solution.
The Transport Workers Union has notified litigation where they require port workers to return their jobs and compensation for lost work earnings over four years. The compensation claim may amount to NOK 50 million.
This week it is delivered to Ofoten District Court, and the case will probably be in the autumn.

NHO believes the Mosjøen Industrial Terminal has done much to meet the harbor workers. Among other things, five of them have been offered permanent employment. Those who were not offered to join on were offered a financial compensation.
- The dock workers chose to thank no to the offer as their own trade union negotiated in the hope of resolving the matter. We believe it would be an advantage for all if the case can be laid dead, "said Hansteen at NHO.
But it's not going to by be the guys at the barrack in Mosjøen. In recent years there have been harbor conflicts in Drammen, Oslo, Stavanger and Tromsø, and Per Ove Hauan and Håkon Pettersen believe that it is a sign that the occupational group they belong to is under attack.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that harbor workers do not have the exclusive right to load and unload boats. The rights they have had since 1914 are in breach of the EEA Agreement.

The question of who is going to carry out unloading and loading of ships in public ports was also discussed at the Parliment this week. The Center Party asked the government to ensure that the port workers retain their historic right.
The proposal did not get a majority, and parliamentary representative Sigbjørn Gjelsvik (Sp) is concerned.
- Before the workers were secured proper working conditions and permanent positions, they were unemployed. We will not be back there. Therefore it is important to take hold of it, he says.

Just outside the window in the barrack in Mosjøen, a big ship goes to the harbor. With it, it has raw materials for the aluminum industry, which produces metal to the covers of almost half of the beer and soda boxes in Europe.
Per Ove Hauan is grateful that he is blessed with a good mood and a positive attitude to life. At the same time, he admits that it can be hard sometimes.
- The development in working life scares me. We see companies that go bankrupt rather than accept that their employees get a collective agreement. If the strategy of removing our rights succeeds, it is free to use foreign, low-paid seamen to do the cargo and load job Norwegian dock workers now do.

Original article:
Havnearbeiderne Håkon (48) og Per Ove (59) har ikke hatt inntekt på fire år.

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