Pay bargaining in the public sector

The public sector comprises all Norwegian ministries and agencies at the central and municipal levels, including colleges and universities. This sector currently employs approximately 150,000 governmental workers.

How pay is negotiated in the public sector

Many of the salary and employment benefits that you enjoy as a civil servant have been negotiated through centralized collective bargaining (The Basic Collective Agreement for the Civil Service). Collective bargaining on both salary and employment benefits is conducted biannually, while negotiations limited to salary take place in the intervening years.

Collective bargaining in the public sector is conducted at three levels:

  • Centralized collective bargaining to determine terms to be applied throughout the public sector
  • Centralized salary negotiations
  • Local negotiations between local parties

When does collective bargaining take place?

Centralized collective bargaining is conducted annually in the spring, the results of which are put into effect 1 May. Centralized salary negotiations are generally put into effect starting either 1 July or 1 August. Local collective bargaining is conducted in the autumn, usually during September – October. The salary framework for local negotiations is determined during centralized negotiations.

Who negotiates?

The parties involved in centralized collective bargaining are the central government represented by the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation (KMD), and civil servants represented by confederations acting on behalf of a large number of trade unions.

Four main confederations negotiate in the Government sector.  Tekna is affiliated with Akademikerne, which is the second largest confederation in the public sector.

Salary negotiations are also conducted at the national level; however, as has already been noted, these negotiations are not conducted annually. Tekna – and Akademikerne, with which we are affiliated – oppose centralized salary regulation because we do not believe that this approach to salary regulation represents an efficient use of the funds allocated for salary payments.

What Tekna is working for

The salary scale used in the public sector has remained more or less unchanged for more than 20 years. Tekna and Akademikerne believe that both collective bargaining and salary scales need to be simplified in order to promote greater transparency and efficiency.

Pay is an important policy tool at all workplaces. Tekna’s goal is to achieve an agreement framework around which the major parties involved negotiate a financial allocation and benefits for civil servants as a group. However, the actual distribution of this financial allocation should be undertaken locally within each agency by means of collective bargaining between local trade unions and employers. The parties involved at the local level are best suited to assess how allocated funds may be best distributed. Local parties are able to determine whether they should use general supplements, group adjustments or individual supplements.

Tekna and Akademikerne believe that as is the case for other categories of public sector employees, recent graduates employed in the public sector should receive a salary level corresponding to those found in the private sector. This is important in order to ensure that the public sector can compete with the private sector for qualified personnel and provide citizens with timely and efficient services.

Modified date: Friday, March 20, 2015