OSLO (Reuters) – About 755 Norwegian oil workers could go on strike from Saturday if employers and unions fail to agree a new wage deal before a Friday deadline that would limit output from Western Europe’s top producer, trade unions said on Monday.
A final round of mandatory talks will be hosted by a state mediator on June 30 and July 1 in an effort to avoid a conflict that could start the following day..
Employers have argued that a plunge in oil prices since 2014 must be accompanied by cost cuts and flexible work practices to help make the industry stay competitive. Unions say members should receive pay increases matching those in other industries.
The Industri Energi union said it would take out 524 members if the talks break down, affecting the Statoil-operated <STL.OL> Oseberg, Gullfaks and Kvitebjoern fields.
The SAFE union said it would take out 156 workers on ExxonMobil’s <XOM.N> Balder, Jotun and Ringhorne fields.
In addition, 75 workers on Engie’s <ENGIE.PA> Gjoea field would also go on strike, the smaller union Lederne said.
A protracted strike may ultimately result in more than 7,400 workers going on strike, data from the state mediator’s office showed.
“We do of course wish for the mediation to lead to a deal, so that a conflict is avoided,” the Safe union said in a statement.
The three labour unions will negotiate on behalf of the oil workers, while Norwegian Oil and Gas will represent oil and gas firms.
In 2012, a 16-day strike among some of Norway’s oil workers cut the country’s output of crude by about 13 percent and its natural gas production by about 4 percent.
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, editing by Terje Solsvik and Louise Heavens)