TRONDHEIM: Norway does not no plan to halt a strike by the country's oil workers and may change its stance should the strike escalate, labour minister Hanne Bjurstroem said on Wednesday.
“We are not at all at a point where intervention is on the agenda,” Bjurstroem told Reuters.
“My responsibility is to ensure this strike does not have large consequences for society. If it did, that would give us cause for intervention.”
Norway is the world's eighth-largest oil exporter and second-largest gas exporter, supplying much of Western Europe's energy needs.
“This is a legal conflict and the parties have a responsibility to resolve it. It is not the government's responsibility,” Bjurstroem said on the sidelines of a conference.
Norwegian oil and gas workers launched a limited strike on Sunday, demanding higher wages and the right to early retirement, and plan to decide on Friday whether to escalate their action as talks have broken down.
The strike now affects around 11 per cent of Norway's 1.6 million barrel per day oil output and around 4 per cent of its gas production.
The government has the authority to intervene and force a settlement as the sector accounts for over a fifth of its gross domestic product and nearly half its exports.
Unions have tried to keep the labour action small enough to keep the government out while inflicting enough pain on companies to force them to act.
State-controlled Statoil said on Monday it would shut another four oil platforms in the North Sea because of the strike.