Norway oil strike into second week, unions to meet Tuesday

Sun Jul 1, 2012 10:26am EDT
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By Nerijus Adomaitis

OSLO (Reuters) - A strike by offshore workers in Norway's oil sector entered its second week on Sunday with labor unions bracing for a long conflict and possible escalation to further lower output from the eighth largest oil exporter.

Operator Statoil (STL.OL: Quote) said the strike had cut production of oil and natural gas liquids by 230,000 to 250,000 barrels per day, or up to 13 percent of Norway's capacity. Some natural gas output has also been affected.

Unions representing about 7,000 offshore workers on the Norwegian continental shelf, decided on Friday to refrain from escalating the strike to avoid intervention by the government, and to give more time for employers to return to negotiations.

But both the Industri Energi and SAFE trade unions said on Sunday there had been no fresh contact with the Norwegian oil industry association (OLF) so far.

"It's easy to make a phone call, but so far there were no contacts from the OLF," Hilde Marit Rysst, head of the SAFE union said.

"We thought we would give them more time to contact us before we meet again on Tuesday, because they have said the strike was hurting them so much," she added.

Unions are demanding wage increases, better overtime pay and the right to retire at 62, but the OLF has refused to negotiate pensions. <ID:L5E8HG40H>

The OLF was not available for comment, but said on its website on Friday that the unions' decision not to escalate showed they lacked the stomach to strike.   Continued...

A logo of Statoil is pictured at a petrol station in Warsaw February 5, 2012. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel