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TEMPORARY WORKER: –  I would like Norway to be a good place to work, says scaffolder Isaac Maqbul.

TEMPORARY WORKER: – I would like Norway to be a good place to work, says scaffolder Isaac Maqbul.

Tormod Ytrehus

Working in Norway: Wage theft (lønnstyveri), hiring of labour (innleie), equal treatment (likebehandling), temp agency (bemanningsbyrå)

Temporary worker Isaac did not get the pay he was entitled to. This is how he earned 14 kroner more per hour

In Norway workers employed through temp agencies are entitled to the same pay as workers employed directly by the company that hires them. Equal treatment secured offshore worker Isaac Maqbul 14 kroner more per hour.

09.09.2021
12:11
27.09.2021 14:27

foreignworkers@lomedia.no

Scaffolder Isaac Maqbul (39) was hired by Kaefer Energy for one year, before he got a permanent job with the company; a provider of insulation, scaffolding and surface protection (ISO) to the platforms of Norwegian oil companies. He was also hired by other ISO firms for a period of two years, through the company NSE Industrier, which is based in Rogaland.

He consistently received lower wages than the workers employed directly with the companies he was hired by.

Article in Polish: Izaak, pracownik wynajęty, nie otrzymywał należnego mu wynagrodzenia. A w ten sposób dostał 14 koron więcej za godzinę

Article in Lithuanian: Nuomotas darbuotojas Isacas negavo jam priklausančios algos. Štai kaip jis pradėjo gauti 14 kronų už valandą daugiau

Production company or temp agency?

When Maqbul first starts working offshore in 2018 his colleagues keep talking about wage differences. He knows that hired workers should be treated equally and have equal pay to those employed directly by the company that hires them, but he is told that NSE is a production company.

According to the Norwegian Working Environment Act hired workers from temporary-work agencies are entitled to equal pay as those employed permanently by the company hiring workers. However, these rules do not apply when it comes to work hired from production companies.

– It feels unfair doing exactly the same work and receiving lower pay, Maqbul admits.

Meanwhile NSE Industrier is doing really well, with tens of millions in profits.

Hired workers should have equal conditions

The principle of equal treatment of those employed with temp agencies and those employed directly by the hiring undertaking (innleiebedriften) is stipulated in the Norwegian Working Environment Act and in the collective agreement «Industrioverkomsten» between Fellesforbundet and Norsk Industri.

As a temporary worker you are entitled to at least the same conditions as if you were employed directly with the company to do the same work. This goes for working hours, overtime, breaks and rest, night work, holiday, holiday pay, wages and coverage of expenses.

You should also have access to common goods and services.

The company hiring temporary employees must give the temp agency all the information they need to ensure equal treatment. Those employed with the temp agency, those renting the work and union representatives in the company hiring the temporary workers are also entitled to information.

You may also be interested in this article: These are the current minimum wages within nine industries in Norway

The company continued to underpay

The workplace branch (klubben) at Kaefer has since 2018 demanded that their employer should secure equal treatment of NSE employees. They are of the opinion that NSE is a temporary employment agency, and they refer to a ruling by the Supreme Court from 2013 which concludes that temporary workers should be treated equally, if hiring out workers is a business area of the company they are employed with.

In January 2020 the employers’ association Norsk Industri must admit that NSE Industrier have not documented that they are a production company and that they therefore must follow the rules for temp agencies as stated in the collective agreement and the Working Environment Act.

Nevertheless, NSE continues to pay their employees less than what they are entitled to for another year and a half.

This winter employees with NSE got in touch with the workplace branch of Fellesforbundet at Kaefer Energy. They decided they would fight to get the same wages as the Kaefer employees.

Related article: What is a collective agreement (tariffavtale)?

Breakthrough

At the beginning of June the secretary of the Kaefer workplace branch posts a harsh warning regarding equal treatment and back pay in an industry group on Facebook.

Two days later NSE sent an email to their employees saying that they will receive the same wages as the employees of the company they are hired by. The equal pay is backdated to 1 April.

NSE here refers to itself as «a production company with a rental branch».

On Isaac Maqbul’s payslip for July there is a «Kaefer supplement» of 14 NOK per hour and 28 NOK per hour of overtime. This is the difference between the hourly wage in NSE and Kaefer for a skilled worker with three years of experience.

Over time, this will add up to a lot of money.

Wage theft

– Wage theft on a large scale and gross contempt for laws and collective agreements, says Atle Forfang Rostad from the Kaefer workplace branch, refering to the case in Kaefer Energy and NSE Industrier.

– This says something about what kind of room for maneuver the employers feel they have, and about how the employees stand when they are partly unaware of their rights and partly unable to take the fight, he continues.

(The article continues below the image.)

WAGE THEFT: Atle Forfang Rostad from the Kaefer workplace branch of Fellesforbundet calls this a case of wage theft.

WAGE THEFT: Atle Forfang Rostad from the Kaefer workplace branch of Fellesforbundet calls this a case of wage theft.

Håvard Sæbø

Kaefer Energy refuses to answer

Kaefer Energy will not answer questions about what they have done to achieve equality for their temporary workers, as it is their responsibility; or indeed why it took so long after the order from Norsk Industri and Fellesforbundet before equal pay was in place.

The Kaefer workplace branch claim that they have not been given access to information, which they are entitled to according to both the law and the collective agreement. Kaefer Energy refuses to say whether this is correct.

Gave in to the pressure

CEO and owner Helge Olsen of NSE Industrier says the firm is still a production company.

– Mainly we provide services within scaffolding and surface, and renting [out workers] is not the intention with the business. The fact that NSE has approximately 1300 tonns of scaffolding equipment illustrates that point.

NSE is not a member of Norsk Industri, but CEO Olsen says the company has been informed of the dispute between Fellesforbundet og Norsk Industri through Kaefer.

– Due to a lot of pressure we have chosen to give equal pay in line with temp agencies for the ISO industry, he says.

The same as all the others

Apart from the salary, Isaac Maqbul thinks NSE was a good company to work for.

– Things are not any better in other temp agencies. They may have better pay, but other disadvantages. The employees are often people in desperate situations, says Maqbul, who himself has four kids to provide for at home in Skien.

– I would like Norway to be a good place to work, he says.

What can I do if I am not being treated equally?

You can send a wage demand to your employer, where you should document how much you are entitled to. You should ask your union for help.

If your employer does not pay, you could bring your case to the Conciliation Board (Forliksrådet) and possibly further in the court system.

The company that hires workers is also responsible for payment of wages, holiday pay and other supplements (solidaransvar), according to the Working Environment Act. You must send a written demand to the company that hired you within three months.

Read the Norwegian version: Innleigde Isaac fekk ikkje lønna han hadde krav på. Sånn fekk han 14 kroner meir i timen

FriFagbevegelse for foreign workers

Here you will find articles relevant for foreigners working in Norway. Articles in Polish, Lithuanian and English will cover topics such as the rights, rules and laws that apply.

The website is made by FriFagbevegelse, a news site about working life and the trade union movement.

Please share the articles with colleagues and friends.

Got a story to tell? Contact us: foreignworkers@lomedia.no

> Read more news in English

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09.09.2021
12:11
27.09.2021 14:27

FriFagbevegelse for foreign workers

Here you will find articles relevant for foreigners working in Norway. Articles in Polish, Lithuanian and English will cover topics such as the rights, rules and laws that apply.

The website is made by FriFagbevegelse, a news site about working life and the trade union movement.

Please share the articles with colleagues and friends.

Got a story to tell? Contact us: foreignworkers@lomedia.no

> Read more news in English

> Więcej wiadomości po polsku

> Skaitykite daugiau naujienų lietuvių kalba