I work with many people who are immigrants in Norway. Some of them have their issues with their employers, yet, every time I ask if they are members of a Union, I get frightened and confused looks. I understand that in many other countries, being a member of a Union can be too good to be true. In Norway, though, it has more advantages than disadvantages.
I remember telling this to a friend of mine who does not live in Norway. She replied: “In my company, we were already warned that if we join a Union, we’re going to lose our jobs. So, this is not something I can do, because I need my job”. We all need our jobs, for various reasons. In this video, you may find some of them.
When it comes to Unions in Norway, they are well organized. However, there are many, and you need to find the right one representing the people’s interests in your field of work.
I am going to mention 10 advantages for which it is worth to join one while working in Norway, doesn’t matter for how long:
1. The money you pay for a membership is considered nondeductible income, which means you do not pay tax on that amount, or you pay little.
2. Every time there are salary negotiations for your working field, the Union negotiates for you as well, even if you didn’t ask for it personally. They will negotiate in the name of all members. Usually, each Union sends a warning to its members on what they need to do in good time before the negotiations start.
3. If you experience injustices at your workplace, you can speak to people from the Union, get advice and make a plan so you can make yourself heard. They accompany you in the meetings you may have with your leaders and even speak for you if necessary. They also have lawyers who can offer legal aid. Most of the conflicts at work are solved by the Unions.
4. They can negotiate better house mortgage interests for their members.
5. Many negotiate good deals for all sorts of insurances, from house to car and even hotels and rentals.
6. Scholarships for education.
7. Courses and conferences in your field of work so you can keep yourself updated. For those, the employer usually gives time off from work and even pays for them.
8. Network meetings and events, so you get to know your colleagues and not only. Most of these events are free of charge for members. They are a good opportunity for networking. If you feel like you don’t get the chance to know new people, use the time to knit better bonds with the people you already know.
9. You get information about things happening inside your field of work through a magazine or regular e-mails. It’s good to know what’s happening around.
10. If you are a student or not employed, the membership fee is lower, and the information you get is helpful and keeps you updated with news on the work marked.
If you want to get involved, you can become a representative yourself and help. It is good learning inside this kind of organization. It is a job that you’re not paid for. It is like volunteering inside your working place. But for that, your employer gives you the time off so you can work with it. You’re not paid in money, but in time. In return, you learn something new, meet new people, grow your network, and contribute to your colleague’s work welfare and your own.
From what I hear from people I work with, some of the skepticism towards Unions comes from their experiences from the countries of origin. Like the friend, I mentioned at the begyning of this article.
Other reasons for skepticism would be that many people do not work full time, but only a couple of months in a raw, season work, and then they travel back to their own country. Others simply do not know that something like that exists, what it is, and what it is good for. Of course, not learning the language is also a disadvantage. If one does not speak even English, it isn’t easy to find out about this kind of thing, and one depends on own compatriots to get information and help. They can only help you as far as they came themselves.
If you already are a member of a Union, I suggest getting yourself acquainted with the person elected as your representative in your department. Find out more about how they can help you, and why not, how you can help them. After all, they work for you too.
If you didn’t join a Union yet, my suggestion would be to find out which one can represent people in your work field best. Find their website, read the information there, eventually give them a call, and join. You won’t regret it, even if you only work a couple of months a year and travel back to your country in between. They’ve got your back in those times you’re not in Norway also.
I hope you have the courage to stand up for your rights! If you need help to build that up and you don’t know quite yet how to approach the issue, you can register on this link for a free talk. It is not easy to be foreign in a foreign country.
If you want to know more about life in Norway, culture, written and unwritten rules, feel free to get my free newsletter on this link. You’ll receive more insights every week or so.