Scandinavian countries have been a shining light for worker and social rights, but the evidence is that globalism has undermined equity and workers rights. Asbjørn Wahl looks at what has happened and what are some paths forward.
In our European surroundings, the level of unionization has almost halved over the last 30 years, and labour rights, labour laws and collective agreements have systematically deteriorated and/or been completely abolished. Most things are worse than here in Norway, but that does not mean that we are unaffected by this development. Much is going in the wrong direction here, too, even if it unfolds more slowly than in most of the rest of Europe. There is no doubt that Norway is still on the upper deck of the global welfare ship, but much indicates that it is the upper deck of Titanic.
In short, we can summarize that the inequalities in society are increasing also with us, and more authoritarian relations are emerging at the workplaces, including through an Americanization of organizational and management models, as the public Work Research Institute has so well documented. Wage growth for those at the bottom of the ladder has stagnated.
A newsletter published by the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) summarized this development quite well in a recent article, based on a new report from the independent research institute Fafo:
“If the trends continue as they are today, Norway will soon have as great inequalities as Germany and Great Britain. A new Fafo report shows that Norway is no longer a country of low inequalities. Norway is changing rapidly, and the lowest paid are the losers. Wages of the lowest paid in the private sector has virtually stood still since 2008 (…) fewer and fewer of those with the lowest wages have a collective agreement” (11/09/2016).