* Biggest union agrees to deal
* Two smaller unions hold out over pensions
* Talks go to mediator before any strike
(Adds detail, union comments)
OSLO, May 9 Wage and pension talks between
Norwegian oil firms and two key unions broke down after three
days of talks on Friday, raising the prospect of an offshore
strike, but the biggest union cut a deal, the parties said.
The SAFE and Lederne unions, who represent over 3,500 oil
workers held out, demanding better pensions, and their case will
now go to a government mediator, a precursor to any strike.
"Pensions were not an issue we were willing to discuss,"
said Jan Hodneland, the chief negotiator for Norwegian Oil and
Gas Association, the employer's interest group. "This was the
case in 2012 as well, when they attempted to bring pensions into
talks and we were hit with a strike."
Two years ago, about 10 percent of Norway's offshore workers
went on strike for 16 days, cutting oil production by 13
percent, gas output by 4 percent. The strike pushed oil prices
above $100 per barrel before the government intervened to end
SAFE said the main contention was pensions for just a few
dozen workers. Unions wanted a lower retirement age for the
workers, similar to others enjoyed by others in the sector, but
oil firm were not willing to discuss.
Industri Energi, the largest oil worker union representing
around 4,000 members, reached a deal, winning an average annual
pay increase of 15,800 Norwegian crowns ($2,690)plus various
The date for the mediation has not been set. Although a
breakdown in mediation could lead to a strike, the government
may decide to impose a deal to avoid industrial action.
On May 13, oil firms begin wage talks with oil service
($1 = 5.8830 Norwegian Krones)
(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Writing by Balazs Koranyi,
editing by William Hardy)