OSLO, March 28 (Reuters) - Over 9,000 Norwegian industrial workers, including some at key oil services companies, could go on strike on April 2 if government mediation over wages and pensions fails, unions said on Friday.
Initial mediation has broken down and the parties now start forced mediation in the first set of major wage talks that will later be followed by oil workers and public sector employees.
”There is significant distance between the parties,“ Nils Dalseide, the national mediator told a news conference. ”I think we could come to an agreement, but there is no guarantee, and there is a risk of strike up until the point we reach an agreement.
“From experience these talks usually goes on until the early hours after the deadline,” he added.
Union and employers hold wage negotiations every second year and oil workers went on a two week strike in 2012, shutting part of the country’s vital offshore sector until the government broke up the dispute.
Although unions have signalled muted wage demands, they also want pension concessions which employers said they are not willing to discuss.
The central bank expects wages to rise by 3.5 percent this year, slowing from 3.9 percent in 2013 as economic growth slows.
The strike, if it goes ahead, could hit 102 companies, including oil service firms Aker Solutions, Kvaerner , Aibel, Worleyparsons, Nexans and National Oilwell Varco. (Reporting by Camilla Knudsen and Balazs Koranyi, editing by William Hardy)