In Norway, minimum-wage regulations have traditionally been left to the autonomy of the labour market parties. The extensive labour migration from Central and East European EU countries has changed this picture. Migrant workers often are not covered by regular collective agreements, which have led to an increasing low-wage competition in the Norwegian labour market. Thus, generally applicable collective agreements have now been introduced into several of the sectors that have recruited high numbers of migrant workers.
The Act on general application of collective agreements was adopted in 1993, but was never in use until 2004. The act’s main purpose is to ensure that foreign workers enjoy wages and working conditions equal to those of Norwegian employees, and to prevent distortion of competition in the Norwegian labour market. Since 2004, collective agreements have been legally extended in sectors as construction, agriculture, business cleaning, shipbuilding, fish processing industry and electrical engineering.
This means that no one should receive wages below the collectively agreed minimum wage rates in these industries. The introduction of general applicable collective agreements has triggered a great deal of debate on the need for legally based regulation of minimum wage in Norway, and whether there is also a need for a national statutory minimum wage.