The Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations
The Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations (Akademikerne) is the primary Norwegian organization dedicated to improving salary and working conditions for professionals with a higher education. We regard knowledge and expertise as vital to society, and strive to ensure that there is an adequate supply of qualified professionals. We are a confederation of professional organizations with members who are highly trained and highly qualified. They include lawyers, engineers, psychologists, researchers, doctors, veterinary surgeons, clergy, social scientists, architects, business school graduates, economists, dentists, agronomists and officers in the armed forces. Akademikerne has 13 member organizations, with a total of some 193.536 members. Links to member organizations are in the right column.
The federation seeks to promote the development of a society based on:
- Systematic improvement of knowledge and expertise
- Versatile and competitive trade and industry
- A competitive public sector
Knowledge and expertise
Akademikerne considers that a stronger commitment to research is necessary to create value; this is a prerequisite for the positive development of Norway`s economy and welfare society. In a world in which technology is developing faster than ever, knowledge and expertise are the most important factors for creating new and secure jobs. At the same time, research provides valuable contributions to the country`s culture and general levels of knowledge.
Norway`s total investment in research is well below the average for OECD countries. Akademikerne believes that the financial framework for research should be strengthened. Basic research suffers from a lack of resources, funding and modern equipment. We see a need for substantial improvements in salaries for scientific staff, as well as in conditions at universities and colleges. Adequate public-sector funding is necessary to ensure the independence of research from commercial special interests.
Akademikerne advocates schemes which ensure that both private- and public-sector organizations give adequate consideration to long-term needs for the development of knowledge in a competitive global economy. This applies to continuing and further education in business and the civil service as well as to the programmes offered by academic institutions. At the same time, it is important for society to create an environment in which investment in training is not restricted to large enterprises rich in resources or to members of the employee organizations with the greatest bargaining power. Self-employed professionals should be given the same opportunities for continuing and further education as salaried employees.
Akademikerne is working to improve funding for education. The real interest rate for student loans should be reduced to zero. The ratio of grants to loans must be increased. Investing in a long education is not only investing in your own career: it also means that you assume social responsibility by making the most of your abilities to benefit society. Education funding must be structured to reward a longer education instead of punishing it.
Versatile and competitive industry
Akademikerne will campaign for versatile, varied and competitive industry based on the country`s natural resources as well as systematic development of new knowledge and new technology. We support an industrial policy based on steady and continuous growth in competence, combined with a vision of life-long learning which emphasizes knowledge and innovation. The development of knowledge and competence is essential for innovation and the development of ideas.
The Norwegian economy is open and exposed to competition. Within the context of the country`s natural resources, our industry should be diversified to succeed against the competition. The Norwegian economy must respond to the challenges presented by a global economy in which technological and organizational development continues to accelerate.
Norwegian industry should be stimulated to achieve constant renewal of services, products and means of production. In a market subject to intensifying competition, it will be vital to find and exploit the niches which demand new knowledge and technology. It is important to create opportunities for cooperation, and to offer financial incentives for adaptation. A good educational system with integrated continuing and further education is a prerequisite for diversified, competitive and adaptable industry in Norway.
Akademikerne considers it important that Norway is seen - both locally and internationally - as a country which offers attractive opportunities for investment. Many countries are now reducing taxes and duties to encourage investments. If Norway is to be able to maintain its position in future, a competitive tax structure is necessary.
A competitive public sector
Requirements for the quality and range of public-sector services are growing steadily, while finances and access to suitably qualified staff set limits on the future expansion of the public sector. Improving the quality of the services will depend more and more on better utilization of resources. This will place exacting demands on the public sector`s capacity for renewal and adaptation. Here, expertise and knowledge will be critical factors.
Akademikerne is working to promote a public sector which is better equipped to take on ever more demanding and wide-ranging responsibilities, managing resources with skill and efficiency. Resources which are currently used on unnecessary administration, supervision and control should be channelled into service delivery.
Norwegian public-sector administration has been excessively influenced by the claims of different sectors for uniformity in organization and in the allocation of resources regardless of local challenges and conditions. Staff with knowledge and expertise should be given the responsibility and authority that enables them to work productively. Municipalities and local business leaders should have greater scope for allocating resources and setting priorities.
If the public sector is to be competitive, it must also be able to compete for the best staff. Here, salary levels and the potential to offer challenging and interesting work will be increasingly important.
Salary and working conditions
Akademikerne believes that salary should be used actively as an instrument in personnel policy. Salary progression for both groups and individuals should be linked more strongly to knowledge, expertise and commitment, as well as to professional and administrative responsibility. Pay conditions should be used actively to channel society`s knowledge resources where they can be applied best. Akademikerne assumes that the principle of free negotiations will be followed.
The federation supports pay negotiations as near as possible to the workplace, to take greater account of the competition for skills in the job market.
The public sector should be able to use the salary system as an incentive for recruiting and keeping qualified personnel. Akademikerne supports greater freedom of action for public-sector bodies in local salary negotiations. In collective bargaining agreements, salary progression for young graduates should be given priority. Akademikerne believes that, in coming years, an efficient job market in the public sector will rely on introducing systems to prevent a systematic pay lag in relation to the private sector.
In the private sector, the role of the central contracting parties must be limited to specifying guidelines for local wage determination. The starting point for local negotiations within companies should be the individual company`s situation: finances, productivity, outlook and competitiveness.
Graduates who run their own businesses should have better economic incentives. Akademikerne supports policies that motivate people to start their own businesses.
The federation will campaign for equitable opportunities that enable both men and women to make the most of their strengths and resources on the job. It is important that recruiting in all sectors is balanced as evenly as possible between the sexes. This also applies to recruiting for management positions. Akademikerne advocates measures that make it possible to realize these ambitions.
The federation believes that the much heavier taxation of salary income than of capital income in Norway weakens the legitimacy of the tax system. The surtax intended as a tax on higher incomes now applies at a very low level, and affects ordinary employees. Akademikerne believes that the threshold should be increased or that the surtax should be removed entirely.