Court allows class action lawsuit play for COSL layoffs

COSL Pioneer; Image: COSL Drilling
COSL Pioneer; Image: COSL Drilling

A district court in Jæren, Norway has decided that all 229 employees who were dismissed from COSL Drilling in June 2015 can participate in a class action suit that the Norwegian union of energy workers, SAFE, has filed against the company. 

In June 2015, the Norwegian oil company Statoil cancelled a contract it had with the offshore drilling contractor COSL Drilling for the COSL Pioneer semi-submersible drilling rig 13 months before the expiry date. As a result, COSL Drilling reduced it workforce by 209 offshore and 20 onshore workers.

Commenting on the court’s decision, SAFE’s lawyer, Elisabeth Bjelland, said on Monday that this was a positive ruling from the district court, and that the union would gladly fight for all the workers regardless of the organization.

According to SAFE, the drilling company sent the dismissal letters to the workers by email in the afternoon, after hours, on June 30, 2015, and the postal items with dismissal letters were received by those affected several days into the month of July.

SAFE was in a dialogue with COSL for some time regarding the calculation of notice periods for those laid off in June. The union has argued that the notice period starts once the letter is received, while COSL argued that it should be calculated from the day the e-mail was sent which is June 30, 2015.

The union explained that the importance of clarifying the exact date of when redundancies took place lies in financial interests of those made redundant.

The union, referring to a law that states the dismissal must be delivered personally or sent by mail, believes that the basis for calculation should be August 1, since the postal item was first received a few days in July.

Therefore, SAFE took legal action for 27 of its members whose notice period was calculated from July 1 and as a result received one salary less than they were entitled to.

The union asked the court to allow the case to be treated as a class action suit, a request that encountered opposition from the drilling company that, on the other hand, claimed that each dismissed worker had to lead his own trial.

The court’s decision to allow the case to be treated as a class action suit opens up a possibility for all the workers who consider they have suffered a financial loss to participate in the lawsuit.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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