From: Arno Mong Daastoel <arno@DAASTOL.COM>
Subject: Fw: On the general strike in Norway
Date: Tuesday, May 09, 2000 6:09 AM

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, May 06, 2000 1:27 PMy Subject: Strike?

On the general strike in Norway

By Arno Mong Daastoel, 6 May 2000

The situation here is that almost everybody here are shocked and dead angry about certain principles of the new economy. A poster at a march yesterday one broker is one too much. Captains of industry, virtual or not, have been giving themselves enormous (from a Norwegain standpoint) payouts in the shape of salaries, option agreements and parachutes while at the same time doing relatively poor jobs (which is why they need parachutes, for instance the extra costs of one oil platform, Aasgard, of $ 2,2 billions). The national economy is booming and unemployment is very minor, although there is some hidden unemployment in the shape of social security/handicap pensions etc.

At the same time they have been preaching moderation to the unions who have listened and agreed. Until recently. The press announcents of the parachutes immediatly before the national renegotionations of wages set off a fire. Even though unions bosses accepted the result of negotions, an obligatory general vote on the result turned it down by 64,5 % and practically EVERYBODY regardless of occupation or political creed have agreed VERY much on the need to set an example. No noe can remember such a uninimous national mood. The employers and their union have really made fools of themselves by making sure that nobody will take their pleas for moderation seriously for a long time to come.

On the other hand few expect the strike to do much good about the problem that all find to be most serious, but what can we do? Strike is the only weapon available. Union leaders are getting a stronger opposition every day because of the coopertive mood of their leaders.

The reason for this strong reaction is also the national phsyche of the Norwegians. Equality (and strong-headed individualism) is a much praised good here, especially on the Western coast, and as on Iceland I presume. Quite interesting the West coast is also the least socialist-minded area. Nobility for instance (+Jews and Jesuits, this clause removed 1831), has been illegal since the Constitution of 1814, and we have had no true nobility ever, and especially not after the Black Plague (1347 and 1361) wiped them out. The Danish and Swedish nobles we had here during the unions with those coountries, have not been much liked to say the least. Salaries is another indication of the love for egalitarianism: The busdriver I talked to today eared $ 35.000 a year and all university professors, regardless of kind, earn 45.000. Civil Engineers earn around 35.000 too. Average industrial wage is 30.000, average wage some 25.000 (low income groups are hotel, restaurant, shops, cleaning).

The pay rise among leaders in 1999 was 16,5 %. Organised labour got 1 %. The original offer now was 8 cents an hour (ca. 0.7 %, 3 year agreement period) The renegotioted offer was 1,5%, 2 year period, a fifth vacation week and more after education (increased competence). The national union leader si a VERY skilled performer, swears a lot on TV and is much liked for his artistic abilities. He said today that he HAD woken up after noticing that the union rank and file slammed the door in his face, (I am a bit slowminded, but even I have limits here). Work started today but the result of the new negotiation also has to be accepted byt rank and file through a national vote.

The Norwegian car-parts industry (for BMW, Volvo, SAAB, etc) operates with just in time delivery and the car companies in Sweden had to close yesterday. There were threats to find other suppliers. Therefore, workers voluntarily showed up at the factory gates at 04.00 am this morning in order to start work....