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Service Wage Scandal in Oslo

Waiting tables in Oslo Norway comes with a minimum wage

Almost half the people employed in Oslo’s service industry are being underpaid, according to new trade union research.

A summer inspection of service industry employers by the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) in Oslo has turned up surprising results.

Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reported on LO’s findings yesterday. They say that many employers in Oslo and Akershus are breaking the recently-introduced rules on minimum wages for the hospitality industry.

The problem is much more serious than LO had been expecting. Of the 443 young workers in 341 companies that LO met with, almost half (49%) were paid less than they were entitled to.

Minimum wage in hospitality industry

As we’ve written about before, there is no national minimum wage in Norway. However, there is the concept of ‘general application' on an industry-by-industry basis.

In those cases, an independent committee can decide that a collective agreement negotiated by trade unions can apply fully across an industry. This happened in the hospitality industry at the beginning of 2018.

From 1 June 2019, the minimum hourly rate is 167.90kr. This applies to employees over the age of 20 years and also to over 18s that have worked for four months. The rate also applies to full-time and part-time employees. There are other rates and conditions for younger workers, which can be found in more detail here.

Jernbanetorget in Oslo
Inspections were carried out in Oslo and Akershus

Since then, employers must pay their staff at least the minimum wage as set in the collective agreement. This applies whether the staff in question are members of a trade union or not.

“It is even more serious than we had foreseen and gives us a clear basis for saying that the conditions in the hospitality industry in Oslo and Akershus are not the way we want them to be,” said an LO spokesperson.

Problems in other industries too

LO’s summer inspection teams also found extensive violations of overtime regulations and privacy laws in other industries. Rules were violated in almost one-in-five cases across Oslo and Akershus.

Violations of privacy regulations included video surveillance of employees without their knowledge or consent,.

These figures are much higher than the national average from the previous year. In 2018, violations of the overtime regulations were found in 6.3% of cases, with violations of the privacy regulations at 8.6%.

About LO

Landsorganisasjonen i Norge is an influential umbrella organisation of trade unions in Norway.

There are 21 National Union affiliates that represent almost 900,000 workers across Norway. The Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (Fagforbundet) makes up more than a third of all members.

During the summer every year, LO makes inspections of employers and ensures that employees know their rights. They pay special attention to young and temporary workers.

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

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