Advice and Tips
“Being a union representative is very exciting”
Francis Suson Cagatin never planned to become a union representative, but he has never regretted saying yes. Here’s why.
“As a union representative, you have the opportunity to learn a lot. You learn more about the industry, the profession and, most importantly, you gain access to key decision-makers,” Francis explains.
He is one of Tekna’s 4,000 union representatives working to provide members with the best possible working conditions, a good working environment and professional development opportunities.
He represents around 20 Tekna members in the local branch at NOV Wellbore Technologies Norway LLC in Stavanger. It’s an international environment, and about half of the local members are non-native Norwegian speakers.
Although he is originally from the Philippines, Francis holds a master’s degree from Iceland.
“When the financial crisis hit in 2008, many people lost their jobs in Iceland. There was a full-page advertisement in the newspaper saying they needed engineers in Norway. I was one of those who came to Norway,” he says.
Benefits of being a union representative:
- You have the opportunity to influence your workplace.
- You have close contact with company management.
- You have the opportunity to influence the company’s plans and decisions.
- You gain knowledge of labour market rules, negotiations and governance.
- You enjoy benefits in current and future employment relationships.
- You have access to various courses and conferences. (Expenses are covered by Tekna.)
Gained new insights
As a software engineer, he works on software for oil drilling. Previously, he worked in a department at NOV Wellbore with more than 100 Tekna members. But when he moved departments a few years ago, the number was significantly smaller. This led Francis to take a more active role, eventually becoming a union representative.
One of the responsibilities of a union representative is to participate in salary negotiations. Francis has found a lot of useful information on Tekna’s website.
“Salary negotiations are both challenging and exciting, and are one of the most important things we do as union representatives,” says Francis.
Through his role, he has gained additional knowledge and insight into both the company and the oil and gas industry, as well as getting to know many new people. He is constantly fielding questions from other Tekna members.
“People come to me with all sorts of questions, whether it’s about how salary negotiations are going, how to take advantage of Tekna benefits or regulations regarding working hours.”
Francis is committed to informing and encouraging members to make use of the benefits provided by Tekna, which include various courses and programmes, as well as professional networks.
Trust and respect
Another Tekna member who ended up as a union representative somewhat by chance is Tahir Raheel Bin. As a project engineer at Vianode, he is involved in producing graphite products. Raheel is originally from Pakistan but earned his master’s degree in Germany and has been living in Oslo since 2017.
His workplace didn’t initially have a local Tekna branch. However, since there were several engineers there, many of whom were Tekna members, Raheel helped establish a local branch in early 2022.
Raheel is passionate about unionisation and had planned to learn more about how it works in Norway by joining Tekna’s board. When he was asked to become a union representative, he accepted.
He is very pleased with that decision today.
“When I learned Norwegian, I learned that everything in Norway is based on trust and respect. Union representatives represent employees in a respectful manner and receive respectful responses.”
“There’s much to learn”
To ensure he was adequately prepared for the role, Raheel took union representative courses organised by Tekna. They are also offered in English.
“It was exciting, and there is much to learn,” he says.
As a union representative, he is committed to being a good representative for all Tekna members. He appreciates the opportunity to raise important issues effectively. Additionally, he has some sound advice for anyone considering changing jobs:
“My very best advice is to contact the union representative at the company where you are applying for a new job. As a Tekna member, you can call the union representative and get excellent information about the working environment and what it is like to work for the company.”