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Oslo Airport uncovers substandard working conditions

November 6, 2013 Airport No Comments Email Email

The development organisation at Oslo Airport, which is responsible for the major expansion project currently underway, has uncovered incidences of substandard working conditions.

These discoveries are a result of internal control and vigilant monitoring of wages and working conditions in the project. The incidents are related to increased use of staffing agencies by contractors.

These conditions have been uncovered by the development project’s dedicated LO (Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions) coordinator and the project management. Oslo Airport has an ongoing dialogue with the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority and with the contractors regarding wages and working conditions, both with a view towards preventing and uncovering unfortunate practices. When reprehensible conditions are revealed, Oslo Airport quickly initiates measures to ensure compliance with Norwegian statutes and regulations.

“The regulations are somewhat unclear in certain areas. In these areas, such as regards living conditions and covering the cost of travel home, we have engaged in dialogue with the employee representatives and our contractors to clarify, define and agree on what we believe are proper and correct practices,” says Nic. Nilsen, managing director of Oslo Airport, and continues:

“This is about corporate social responsibility, both for individuals and in the interest of a fair competition situation for skilled Norwegian workers and Norwegian enterprises. We cannot accept a situation where underpayment or unacceptable living and working conditions among contracted foreign workers means that Norwegian enterprises and skilled workers cannot compete.

“Oslo Airport generally takes a positive view of using foreign labour, but this must take place on a level playing field and with fair conditions,” says Nilsen.

Short contracts and deadlines
Studies conducted by Oslo Airport reveal that some foreign employees are offered contracts in Norwegian, which they do not understand. There are also indications that staffing agencies are squeezing hourly rates to an extent that has a negative impact on the safety of the crews and their social situation.

“Together with our main contractor, we have now taken action to remedy the substandard living conditions brought to our attention, and we are reviewing employment contracts to ensure that all agreements are available in a language understood by the employee. In the time ahead, we will continue to maintain a critical focus on the working situation for employees in staffing agencies. Oslo Airport, together with the main contractor, has appointed a group to examine routines used by staffing agencies as regards employment agreements and travel home. Elected employee representatives and LO’s project coordinator will take part in this group,” says Nilsen.

“As long as we have a free labour market and, in part, major wage differences and substantial unemployment in Europe, there is a limit to how much Oslo Airport can “fix” on its own. However, by ensuring continuous and vigilant follow-up of the conditions, we can continue to prevent, reveal and correct unfortunate circumstances that crop up in our project,” says Nilsen.

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