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Wage settlement may be the beginning of the end

This year’s salary settlement may be the end of many small businesses in Norway, according to Bedriftforbundet, an interest organization for small businesses.

According to Tom Bolstad, CEO in Bedriftforbundet, even thought the monetary value of the salary settlement is characterized as moderate, the forced pension saving plans may be a heavy load for many businesses to carry.

Norwegian industry is very exposed to competition from abroad.

«When an employer in industry in Norway costs NOK 230 (USD 33.8) while in Poland the price is NOK 15 (USD 2.2), it is only logical that we have to be careful to impose new costs on businesses,» Bolstad claimed.

Bolstad admits that the effects of law required occupational pension plans are impossible to predict, but he stated that additional costs are not at all good.

«But what we know is that it will be additional costs for the businesses,» Bolstad explained to the Norwegian news bureau (NTB). «If there is anything the businesses don’t need just now is legally imposed costs on top of everything else.»

Bolstad said that he thinks the pension will be divided into three shares where the government, the businesses and the employees pay one share each.

«The costs of this are bad enough, but this case also has an important principal side,» Bolstad stated. «What has happened here is that the Norwegian Federation of Trade Organizations (LO), the government and the Confederation of Norwegian Businesses and Industry (NHO) have made a bill which others outside LO and NHO have to contribute to and pay for. Bondevik (the Norwegian PM) should have kept out of it and let the parties in the working life take care of it themselves. Now the rest of the working life has to follow suit.»

Bolstad claims that the satisfaction among employees who have been gained an occupational pension plan will be forgotten by the next wage settlement.

«Then the demands will be as before, as if the occupational pension existed,» Bolstad claimed.

He said he is particularly displeased that this became a part of the wage settlements, also because it may lead to public pensions shrinking in the years to come, at the same time as an increasing part of the costs are pushed onto the businesses and the employees.

«When the government manages to get a pension plane in place that other people pay for, it may be tempting to cut its own costs,» Bolstad said.

He stressed that he has nothing at all against pension plans if the business can afford it. In stead of pension plans required by law, Bolstad stated that the government should ensure tax exceptions for both the businesses and the employees who enter into such agreements.


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