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Solidarity works – Orona elevator workers in Norway conclude agreement

02.08.2018

Norwegian elevator constructors’ union who went on strike when their employer Orona, a multinational lift producing and maintenance company based in Spain, refused to negotiate a collective agreement, has won an important victory.

Elevator mechanics wanted to conclude a collective bargaining agreement which would bring working conditions up to industry standards. After the company refused to negotiate, 19 workers went on strike in Norway on 14 May. Nearly three months later, the strike has ended with an agreement between the union and Orona, with the last round of negotiations lasting for 13 hours.

Orona tried to avoid the traditionally strong Norwegian unions in the sector and also wanted to use more subcontractors in Norway. The core demand of the Norwegian workers was that Orona, one of the biggest lifts producers in Norway, adopt a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for the sector that is already covering workers at Thyssenkrupp, Kone and Otis.

IndustriALL urged the company to stop attacks on collective bargaining rights, specifically the threat to close an operation just because workers are executing basic rights. IndustriALL also called on Orona to engage in fair negotiations with the respective workforce representation, and provide a fair and open negotiation process with respect to the ILO core conventions and Norwegian legislation.

Now, the Norwegian elevator constructors’ union has won this important fight – the company came back to the table and had to accept the CBA and also agreed to not involve subcontracting in the respective operations. Although it is a small operation, it is a significant breakthrough for the Norwegian unions and for workers at Orona all over the world, as the company has previously resisted most attempts to organize its workers.

Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director for mechanical engineering says:

“Although little in numbers, our Norwegian colleagues have proven strength, determination and solidarity. We did our best to also show the solidarity of workers around the globe; we cannot let multinational companies get away with an anti-union approach.”

Markus Hansen, President, Norwegian Elevator Constructors Union comments,

“We regard this as a complete victory, all of our demands have been met. I´m really proud of those 19 mechanics who took the fight and was prepared to go all the way. Our support from other unions and elevator constructors have been amazing. Orona fought hard against our claim for the collective agreement, and even said that they would withdraw from Norway. Even then, those 19 stood together and were willing to sacrifice a lot to gain this vicory. We regard this victory as one of our most important struggles we have had in this decade.”

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