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Not a breach of the OECD Guidelines

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The majority of the Norwegian Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises has concluded that Kongsberg Automotive did not breach the Guidelines, but the company is advised to observe Norwegian practices and traditions in labour disputes.

The majority of the Norwegian Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises has concluded that Kongsberg Automotive did not breach the Guidelines, but the company is advised to observe Norwegian practices and traditions in labour disputes.

On 25 November 2008, the Norwegian National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises received a complaint against Kongsberg Automotive from the Norwegian United Federation of Trade Unions (Fellesforbundet). The company’s subsidiary in Ohio, USA, Kongsberg Driveline System, had hired alternative labour during a lockout. Fellesforbundet was of the view that the parent company Kongsberg Automotive had breached the OECD Guidelines by accepting such a course of action.

The use of hired labour during a labour dispute is not in keeping with Norwegian practices and tradition. In the NCP’s view, it has become part of Norwegian parent companies’ corporate social responsibility to encourage their foreign subsidiaries to observe Norwegian labour traditions insofar as is practicable. The NCP therefore recommends that Kongsberg Automotive takes such considerations into account should a similar situation arise in the future.

The majority of the NCP is nevertheless of the view that Kongsberg Automotive’s conduct in connection with the dispute cannot be said to constitute a breach of the OECD Guidelines. The ILO conventions on which the provisions of the Guidelines are based are also taken into account in the assessment.

The minority of the NCP, which consists of the representative from the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), is of the view that the hiring of alternative labour during the lockout constituted a breach of the OECD Guidelines in that it is a breach of non-statutory law and Norwegian tradition and culture in this area. The minority has also taken the ILO conventions into account in its assessment.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are recommendations addressed by the governments of OECD member countries to multinational enterprises. They contain voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct in many different areas, and give guidance on how companies should proceed. The Guidelines are followed up by NCPs. The Norwegian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines is made up of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) and LO.

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