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Avinor and OSL discover social dumping and launch investigation

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On Tuesday, 30 April the Norwegian television channel TV2 aired a story about social dumping that took place in connection with the development project at Oslo Airport. The case referred to had already been dealt with by Avinor and Oslo Airport in March.
 
In early March, Oslo Airport, via the T2 (T2 OSL) construction project, received a tip that social dumping may be occurring at one of the subcontractors working at the construction site. The tip came through our LO (Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions) coordinator at the project. The activities were allegedly taking place at the Estonian firm BTM, a supplier of steel to Steelcon, which in turn supplies steel to SGS, a company under contract to Oslo Airport. A total of 15 BTM employees are said to have been affected. BTM was contracted to build the steel structures for the new roof over the rail station.
OSL T2 immediately launched an internal audit of those involved in the case. On 19 March, the investigation was completed.

Six non-conformities were uncovered:
– Wage payments are not in accordance with Norwegian provisions concerning general application of wage agreements
– Working hours deviating from the Working Environment Act have not been approved by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority
– The companies have not established procedures to ensure compliance with the provisions on wages and working conditions
– Safety delegates have not received proper training
– Two people have been dismissed for lack of HSE- ID cards
– Several people have not undergone the construction client’s safety course.

The report was submitted to the contractor on 20 March with a response deadline of 5 April. Further investigation of such matters lies with the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority and the Authority was contacted 20 March to take delivery of the audit report. The Authority was asked to assess the investigation. The investigation is now fully under way and OSL will, in consultation with the Authority, take the necessary measures to ensure that workers will receive the wages they are entitled to.
After TV2 spotlighted the issue it has emerged that while the workers will be paid the difference of what they are owed, they will have to pay half of it back. Two people are said to have been fired, and there are claims that threats have been made to the workers’ families in Estonia.

On Tuesday 30 April, OSL contacted the Labour Inspection Authority for advice on the matter. They recommend that OSL establish an investigation team with legal expertise to conduct a full review of the delivery. OSL has also held a meeting with the main contractor SGS and subcontractor Steelcon to make it clear that the practices that have come to light are unacceptable. OSL is demanding that the dismissals be revoked and made void. Furthermore, we encourage workers who feel threatened to report this to the Norwegian police. OSL T2 has also asked the Estonian supplier for a meeting during week 19 (May 6-10).

“It is very unfortunate that social dumping has been occurring on our construction site and we are disappointed that a subcontractor is trying to get away with this. However, we are pleased that our procedures and cooperation with the unions led to the discovery of these issues. Our focus now is to ensure that the workers get what they are entitled to,” says Vegar Gystad, head of media relations.

“We are shocked by what we are hearing concerning repayments, dismissals and rumours of threats. If all the information is correct, these are criminal acts, and we encourage workers to report these matters to the police. Going forward, we will be working closely with the Labour Inspection Authority and our suppliers so this matter will be resolved according to Norwegian laws and regulations,” Gystad concludes.

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