Many foreign workers in Norway could be entitled to earn twice as much, new campaign warns

Know your rightsPhoto: Norwegian Labor Inspection Authority

Many foreign workers who travel from Eastern Europe to work in Norway are unaware of their rights and obligations as employees in the country. An information campaign to remedy the issue has now been launched.

The Know Your Rights campaign targets workers from Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, and Bulgaria employed in Norway. The campaign is part of a large international cooperative effort to combat social dumping funded under the EEA and Norway Grants.

“Experience shows that many of these workers are not paid in accordance with the rules and are not given the same rights as other employees in Norway. 

“In addition, they do not know enough about their rights and obligations as employees in this country,” Director General of the Norwegian Trade and Labour Inspection Authority Trude Vollheim said.

According to Statistics Norway (SSB), more than 50 000 workers regularly travel to Norway from Eastern Europe. Of these, approximately 20 000 come from the four countries included in the campaign. 

Most of the workers are men between the ages of 30 and 50 employed in the construction industry. Many are employed in the fishing industry and the hotel and restaurant industry. Most of them are low-paid workers.

Information in eight languages

A preliminary study (Fafo, 2020) carried out for the Labour Inspection Authority prior to the campaign revealed that many workers are in need of information in their own languages. 

At present, free information material for the Know Your Rights campaign has been made available in eight languages: Bulgarian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, and Russian, in addition to English and Norwegian. 

During one month of active advertising, the campaign’s website had 30,000 unique visitors, and Facebook posts received 11,000 clicks. In total, almost 80,000 people saw the campaign’s advertisements on different platforms. The plan is to run the campaign until September 2022.

The campaign’s success can be attributed to thorough preparation, including cooperation with the independent Norwegian social science research foundation Fafo. 

Researchers helped identify the most relevant issues (wages, working hours, contracts, whistle-blowing channels) and the information channels used by the target groups. 

The Labour Inspection Authority is now building on this knowledge to provide customized information in multiple languages about entry and quarantine regulations in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is great to see that the knowledge from the campaign against social dumping is proving useful in new areas, such as the efforts to inform foreign workers about the Norwegian infection control restrictions. 

“I often think about how much Norway benefits from cooperation funded by the EEA and Norway Grants,” Special Adviser Pål Lund, coordinator for international cooperation for social dumping and work-related crime in the Labour Inspection Authority, said.

The campaign wins gold 

Norway’s Labour Inspection Authority has worked closely with sister organizations in Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, and Bulgaria throughout the entire process. 

The communications agency Geelmuyden Kiese has provided insight and expertise on matters relating to communication. In November 2020, the Know Your Rights campaign won gold in two categories at the International Content Marketing Awards in London (Best B2B Campaign and Best Video – Individual). 

The campaign is funded under the EEA and Norway Grants, partly under the Global Fund for Decent Work and Tripartite Dialogue.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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