News
When the state sent the teachers away

11. February 2019

In 2004, the responsibility for bargaining with the teachers’ trade unions was handed over from the state to the Norwegian municipalities and counties. The teachers objected, but the government thought it necessary to concentrate more of the duties as employer in the hands of the schools themselves. This brief, written by Åsmund Arup Seip, examines the historical backdrop to both the starting and end point of this shift.

The theme for this breakfast was how Brexit may influence labour market regulation and employment relations in Europe, including Norway. Lecture by professor Paul Marginson, University of Warwick: «Opening a hole in Europe's regulatory floor? Brexit and employment relations». Comments by Jon Erik Dølvik, Fafo, and panel conversation with Peggy Hessen Følsvik, Deputy Leader, Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and Nina Melsom, Working Life Director, The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO).

Senior Researcher Mark Taylor has published an article in Sustainability, analysing resistance to regulation in the value chains of complex products. At a time of increasing pressure to develop sustainable systems of production and consumption (SDG 16), the article asks whether the existing legal frameworks are up to the task of regulating for sustainability in consumer products. Drawing on research into mobile phone production conducted under the SMART project, the article describes how precarious work and toxic impacts on people and the planet are made possible by production systems that resist regulation.

Fafo has published a country report on the vocational system in Norway, as part of the European Union's Erasmus + project «TRACK-VET». The report outlines how the planned new curriculum can put more emphasis on "key transverse competencies", such as democratic and social skills, critical thinking, digital competence and "learning how to learn." The report is based on literature studies and statistical data, a series of interviews with representatives of the educational authorities, trade unions and other key organisations as well as politicians and teachers.

That people who flee war and persecution should have the right to protection is generally agreed upon. It is more contested what this protection should entail and who should be responsible for shouldering the burdens associated with this protection. In this seminar we addressed some of the dilemmas that emerge when governments try to collaborate in securing refugee populations’ rights.

The seminar was held in English and can be re-watched on Fafo-tv. (Unfortunately we had some problems with the sound recording.)

Hanne C. Kavli will act as new research director at Fafo untill 1. september 2020. Kavli earned her degree in political science at the University of Oslo. Kavli has had the position as a senior researcher at Fafo.

The annual national conference against radicalization and violent extremism is this time held in Stavanger. The conference will examine several topics related to, amongst other, right-wing extremism and prevention. As part of the program, Fafo researcher Nerina Weiss, together with Erik Lindbæk Kruse, will speak about "discourses and effects of radicalization prevention in Scandinavia."

The children of immigrants are often met with the attitude that their choice of education has been dictated by social control. On the contrary, these sons and daughters are intent on making their own choices, says researcher Marianne Takvam Kindt to Kifinfo in this article.

Three Fafo researchers are editors of a new textbook which gathers articles from leading international researchers on the topic of part-time work. A main focus is the relationship between "good and bad" part-time, both in a national and international perspective. Part-time as also linked to the ongoing debate on dualisation in the labour market and the capacity of political policy to influence practice, in the workplace and in families.

Anette Brunovskis' PhD, accepted on the 15th of October, is named "Illuminating and blinding. The searchlight effect of human trafficking policies on anti-trafficking practice".

In the book «Posted Work in the European Union – The Political Economy of Free Movement» Fafo researchers Kristin Alsos and Anne Mette Ødegård have written a chapter on the so-called "Shipyard Affair". This yearlong conflict served as an important test case for regulations concerning posted workers in Norway. The book consists of contributions from researchers from several European countries.

In a new Fafo brief Åge A. Tiltnes and Guri Tyldum summarize the situation for Syrian refugees in the neighboring country of Jordan. In spite of a clear improvement in the recent years in the fields of employment and schooling for the youngest, jobs are often badly paid and uncertain and a large proportion drop out of school and education.

Construction of roads, railway, bridges and tunnels in in a growing degree being contracted to non-Norwegian entrepreneurs. How will this effect the working conditions in this business sector – and will Norwegian entrepreneurs manage to survive in this new competitive setting?

Fafo Østforum held the seminar 8th of October – a video recording is available.

The Nordic project “Future of work” maps how shifts in technology, economics, demographics and employment forms will affect the Nordic labour markets in the near future. The researchers will publish a series of papers and briefs towards the final report in 2020. Today they released five working papers on “key concepts and changing labour relations” in each specific country.

Fafo Researcher Mark Taylor is co-editor of a special issue of the journal Competition and Change which explores the challenges to protecting labour and human rights in global value chains. The special issue includes contributions on worker power and the rise of larger emerging-market multinationals, as well as the role of contracts, worker-led monitoring and litigation against companies as part of the governance of sustainability in supply chains.

The Nordic model is considered as well suited for tackling digitalization and automation. Nevertheless, researchers estimate dramatic implications for the development and composition of the labour market. These estimates are, however, usually predicted from the specific situation in the United States. In a project collaboration with leading researchers from MIT, the University of Michigan and the University of Gothenburg, Fafo will study how digitization will affect employment and labour markets in Norway, Sweden and the United States. How do labour market actors and institutions influence and shape the digitalization and its outcomes in the various countries – and vice versa?

In this project, the serving establisment industry (bars, cafés, restaurants) is being mapped to see what kind of changes have occurred since the last survey in 2014. This will provide knowledge of employment and characteristics of employee, wage and working conditions, as well as HSE and knowledge of bad actors in the industry. The project is on behalf of the Norwegian Labour Inspectorate, which also have asked for an assessment of whether initiated measures have had any effects.

Digital labour platforms represent new ways of organising labour and novel opportunities. The Nordic region is recognised for being at the forefront of technology, but digital platforms are currently used to a limited extent. Nordic Innovation and the five national Federations of Professional Associations have commissioned Economics Norway, the Research foundation Fafo and a supporting panel of Nordic experts to study opportunities and barriers for Nordic countries to take advantage of benefits created by the platform economy. The analysis has a specific focus on the platform economy in the knowledge-intensive labour market.

To date the Nordic countries have not had a public debate on living wages. This does not mean that the concept of a living wage is alien to them. In this article Kristin Alsos, Kristine Nergaard and Andreas Van Den Heuvel (LO) examine whether wage-setting mechanisms in the Nordic countries promote and secure a living wage for all employees, and how trade unions have approached the concept of a living wage.

Digitization, demographic changes, climate change and globalization will affect many businesses and professional careers. How this offers both opportunities and challenges served as the starting point for a separate "thematic forum" during the current ILO Convention in Geneva. Fafos Kristin Alsos partaked in a discussion panel, along with the Labor Minister of Uruguay, leader of ETUC, an advisor to the largest employer association in Poland, a UN young leader and the leader of the Ibero American Conference.

Many municipalities do not reach the goals set by the Government, the social partners and themselves aimed at developing a culture of full-time work. Most of the effort to develop a culture of full-time work fails because the employer has underestimated the strength of part-time culture and do not invest the needed resources for such a demanding change. In two new reports Fafo describe the current part-time culture.

One report also describes a new methodology, which can provide a breakthrough in the development of a full-time culture on a large scale.

This week ILO, United Nations’ labor organization, celebrates reaching an age of 100 years. Since the organization itself is built on tripartism, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg handed over a report on the parallel history of social dialogue and tripartism in Norway. How did this social dialogue form, what have been the effects, and how can it help us into the work life of the future?  The report is written by three Fafo researchers and funded by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and ILO.

ALLEMED is a dialog tool to help non-governmental organizations and municipalities to include all children and young people in recreational activities. This brief documents how local government tackle questions of child poverty and, and how they experience that the ALLEMED tool works. Results indicate that the tool can be useful, but it is yet not known whether it actually helps reduce the number of children and young people that are prevented from participating in recreational activities as a result of economic conditions.

In this article in Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies Tove Midtsundstad investigate what characterizes private sector enterprises that offer their employees both entitlement to AFP and a "good" occupational pension, compared with enterprises that only offer a minimum pension. She finds that union strength and strong social partner relations are key factors that differentiate these two groups.

Fafos report on Norwegians' attitudes when it comes to discrimination has led to a debate about racism and how scientific methods can document such attitudes. In a comment on NRK Ytring Guri Tyldum explains her choices for the report and comments on the subsequent debate in the media. – The Fafo-report is not a study of racism in Norway, but concerns itself of how the population views the instruments to combat discrimination and hate speech, Tyldum writes.

On commission from the Norwegian Directorate for health Fafo has evaluated an agreement between the government and the food production industry to facilitate a healthier diet. This brief is the first annual evaluation of the ongoing project. The agreement has introduced useful meeting points and networks, as well as increased food industry's awareness of its own corporate social responsibility. Challenges concern consumption habits and sales, demanding changes of existing products as well as how changes in the tax code for certain foods and beverages with sugar have influenced the climate of cooperation.

The launch of a report concerning the role of private companies have in providing welfare services was marked by a Fafo seminar May 29th. Central questions: How has the scope of the private sector’s role within welfare services evolved? What impact has the private providers of welfare services had when it comes to quality and efficiency? And what happens to the wages, pensions and working conditions?

Fafo's Tone Fløtten and Svein Erik Stave (photo) are among the presenters in a breakfast seminar at Kulturhuset June 12th hosted by Norad. The event aims to engage in joint reflections on current evaluation practices in the light of Agenda 2030 and SDG 17. 

The Fafo conference 2019 - which also marked the 15th anniversary of the EU's eastward expansion - focused on contemporary concerns about climate change, lack of integration, greater inequalities, pressure on wage and working conditions and the welfare state's sustainability.

New technology, digitization and robotics demand abilities in restructuring and skills development in the workplace. Fafo has examined private sector's employee and employer organizations’ view and act on the collective agreements’ provisions on this area. The abilities to rapidly restructure and develop new skills in the aftermath of major technological or legislative changes are given a positive review, all though the daily and more mundane cooperation is often compromised.

May 2nd Fafo researcher Marianne Takvam Kindt was conferred a Ph. D. doctorate at University of Oslo’s institute of education. Her thesis builds on qualitative in-depth interviews with 28 children of immigrants who are undertaking prestigious educational pathways. The thesis examines how they view and explain their choices and developments, from being raised in an immigrant family to higher education and entering adult life.

In Norway, as in many other coutnries, 1st of May is a national holiday celebrating workers in the past and present. On Arbeidslivet.no we have written an article explaining the historic reasons for choosing this day, and how the first demonstrations have evolved.

Fafo has mapped how the legal and contractual requirements for systematic work for safety and inclusion is carried out locally, based on case studies in four municipalities. All though the measures taken are not necessarily characterized by innovation, it is obvious that the work that is carried out amongst the four cases can inspire other municipalities to strengthened efforts. There are many good and systematic efforts being undertaken, the researchers conclude.

The Norwegian government has launched a plan to further climate adaption and food safety in the agriculture sector. This plan has laid the foundations for the upcoming action plan for sustainable food systems in Norwegian foreign and development policy. At this Fafo breakfast, we released a Fafo report offering input to the action plan.

Fafo, on assignment from the Norwegian trade union in the food and beverage production sector (Norsk Nærings- og Nytelsesmiddel-arbeiderforbund / NNN), has interviewed local officials about their needs and thoughts concerning their member organization. There are wide differences in the levels of local activity and needs for training and development. Still, a general view is that a stronger exchange of experiences and knowledge between the clubs is needed. Another desire is that more responsibility should be placed in the hands of the local branch. Also the express a wish for better tending of the members from the core part of the organization.

From 23rd of April Stein R. Fredriksen has been heading Fafo's information department. Before his arrival, Fredriksen worked in University of Oslo's communication department for nine years, two of these years as the department's acting leader.

Young people with family background from Africa, Asia and the Middle East have, on average, far less resources available in the family and achieve on average lower grades in primary school. Yet, they have high educational aspirations. On average they also spend more time on homework, Jon Horgen Friberg explains in a recent article (in English). His findings support the theory that the so-called "immigrant drive" is stronger among young people who maintain their parents' cultural orientations.

How did the trade unions arise in Norway? And which conflicts helped to shape the cooperative culture between employers and employees – as well as the first collective agreements? In an international textbook historian and Fafo researcher Åsmund Arup Seip has written an article (in English) about the unruly birth of organized labour in Norway. This also serves as the pretext for an interview posted on Arbeidslivet.no (in Norwegian).

In cooperation with researchers from OsloMet, The Norwegian Police Academy and UiO, Niri Talberg has written a report about the police workers’ review of the police reform which was initiated three years ago. Among 3100 respondents, many express frustrations regarding a shift towards controlling rather than helping the general public. Other frustrations are: Less knowledge about local environments, less informal contact and losing the ability to perform “small” tasks on behalf of having to be prepared for terror.

The Nordic Council of Labour Ministers launched an extensive research project, headed by Fafo, last year on the theme of "The future of work". The preliminary findings – also available as several briefs, all in English – were presented to the conference in Reykjavik April 4th and 5th. In the final part of the conference the discussion was reserved for issues linked to gender equality in the world of work issues, ending with an Equal Pay International Coalition roundtable session.

The extensive use of interviews in sociological research has in recent years met with different kinds of criticism. In an article in Norsk Sosiologisk Tidsskrift, Jon Horgen Friberg argue that the criticism tends to be exaggerated, but still points towards real challenges that need to be addressed. In line with a pragmatic understanding of science, he argues that the way in which these challenges are met depends on what you want to do with the data. To illustrate, two dimensions are described – between discourse-oriented and action-oriented approaches, on the one hand, and between experience-oriented and critical approaches on the other.

By law, Norwegian workers have the right to a sick pay on the same level as their ordinary salary – with a cap on the time-adjusted equivalent of about 600 000 NOK a year as well as a maximum of days which you can receive this compensation. Many collective agreements have secured their members better terms. In this brief, Kristin Alsos present an overview of the most central agreements. The project is commissioned by a governmental expert panel which has written a report which has sick pay as one of its topics.

Currently, on the news site Dagens Perspektiv, there is an ongoing debate about the value of employees rights to have representatives on the companies’ boards. In an op-ed, Inger Marie Hagen, on basis of research, rejects claims that these representatives are overtly orientated against conflicts and special interests. She asks if the underlying conflict rather is between shortsighted and longsighted organizational and economical goals, and the diverging aims this might create between owners/stockholders and the employees.

Many Norwegian and Danish employees have a right to be part of the decision processes concerning their workplace, including having at least one seat on the board. Few of these representatives report having an actual influence on decisions, according to an article by Inger Marie Hagen and Caspar Rose (Copenhagen Business School). Gender, member size of the board and the representatives’ experience do not statistically alter this. On the other hand, a high frequencies of board meetings correlates with the employees having a stronger voice.

Foto: Colourbox
12. March

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Norad are working on an update of the policy concerning sustainable food systems. Fafo is tasked with offering a fresh look at the underlying factual and conceptual terms, the global status quo as well as serving policy advice when it comes to the subject of nutrition in Norway’s development work abroad.

When married women started partaking in the job market during the 70’s, part time work was a mainstream adaptive choice. Since then both the understanding and the rhetoric of part time work have changed.  Today it is commonly viewed as a barrier to full gender equality. This evolvement of ideas, studied in the light of cultural and institutional changes, is the main topic in an article written by Anne Lise Ellingsæter og Ragnhild Steen Jensen.

In this brief, the authors describe the most important changes and conflicts concerning the Norwegian pension system. This is used as a platform for a discussion on which challenges the system will be struggling with now and in the near future. Originally, the brief was written for the trade union El og IT Forbundet as a roadmap for its debate on pension policy.

Transport of goods across the borders in the EU/ECC area is a heated topic, also in Norway. The reason for this is not only the problems concerning foreign trucks which is not adapted to driving on slippery winter roads, but also because of the pressure that is being laid on salaries and working conditions. This seminar presented findings amongst Bulgarian and Rumanian drivers in Norway as well as the ongoing discussions on EU policy.