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Norway – AWD “propaganda” comes at a cost for temporary workers

28 February 2012

Since Norway is still in the middle of discussing the possible implementation of the European Agency Work Directive (AWD), with unions and politicians urging the Government to veto the directive, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise NHO, has joined the debate, ahead of Government talks regarding the AWD.

The NHO says that the two main points that are often ignored in the debate on the AWD includes the equal treatment of temporary workers when it comes to pay and working conditions; and secondly, the formal “recognition of temporary employment agencies as employers”, something that “will help to develop flexibility in the workplace.”

The NHO stated that the Government has “largely forgotten” this second point, saying that the “authorities are planning to upset the balance that is embedded in the Directive.” The confederation also argued that Norway has a small and open economy, heavily influenced by international competition. Flexibility in the workplace, in the shape of temporary employment, is therefore “of utmost importance” to keep the domestic market going.

However, the association has also expressed concern over certain elements of the directive, particularly when it comes to the joint liability, which gives employment agencies the responsibility to ensure that temporary workers are treated equally at work. This is something the federation has described as “administratively demanding” and may reduce the chances of smaller staffing firms being able to enter the market.

However, Per Bergerud, head of NHO as well as Managing Director at Scandinavia’s third largest staffing firm, Proffice, (according to Staffing Industry Analysts research), called the current controversy surrounding the AWD in Norway “propaganda”, fostered by opponents of the directive.  He said that a survey NHO had conducted on temporary staffing was mainly positive as 72% of surveyed temporary workers were “quite” or “very satisfied” with their work, and 79% felt their input was appreciated.   

Mr Bergerud also said that temporary employment is a “door-opener to working life”, giving particularly graduates a chance to enter the job market. He called it a shame that opponents of the directive use the debate on the AWD to utter their contempt against the intervention of the EU at the cost of temporary workers.

Only 1.2% in the Norwegian workforce are employed through temporary employment agencies and Mr Bergerud said that “99% of employees in Norwegian workplaces will be untouched by the regulations”, however, “for 1% the directive [is] a great opportunity.” Should the directive not be implemented into Norwegian law, a decision the Government will have to make in the coming weeks, it will be “a violation of the Norwegian model”, Mr Bergerud warned. 

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