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New ICFTU report submitted to the WTO:

New ICFTU report submitted to the WTO:

Norwegian labour standards under the spotlight Brussels, 11 October 2004, (ICFTU Online): In a new ICFTU report on Norway, produced to coincide with the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) review of that country's trade policy on 11 and 13 October, the world's largest trade union organisation examines the compliance with core labour standards in the Scandinavian country.

Norway has ratified all eight International Labour Organisation (ILO) core conventions and there are no major problems with regard to the implementation or enforcement of these conventions. However, the report notes some problems. On the issues of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the ICFTU report criticises the authority of the government to intervene in industrial disputes in non-essential services, including the oil export sector, through compulsory arbitration while noting that since 2001, the use of compulsory arbitration has been infrequent.

Furthermore, the report notes that with regard to ILO conventions on equal remuneration and discrimination, progress has been made in Norway - the wage gap is decreasing but differences in payment between men and women remain. In manufacturing, women's earnings make up 88.2% of men's wages whilst in the commercial and savings banking sector, women only earn 77% of the salaries made by men. In addition, men tend to occupy positions of greater responsibility. Furthermore, legislation on the protection against discrimination in employment excludes sectors such as shipping, hunting and fishing, including processing of catch on board, and home workers. Women tend to be employed more often in part-time jobs, which are characterised by instability, low pay and fewer career opportunities.

The report does not identify any problems concerning child labour in the Scandinavian country. Education is compulsory until the age of 16 and free throughout the post-secondary level. Most children are in school until at least the age of 18.

There are no reports of forced labour in Norway; however, there are some problems with the trafficking of women, in particular from Russia and the Baltic States.

The ICFTU calls upon the government of Norway to refrain from using compulsory arbitration beyond the provisions outlined in ILO Conventions. More active measures are needed to address the wage gaps and occupational constraints on employment for women. This requires the collecting of information on wages and evaluation. The government should ensure comparable benefits, such as pensions, for part-time workers relative to full-time workers. Finally the government should continue and reinforce its efforts to eliminate the trafficking of women.

To read the full report:

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