Landsorganisasjonen i Norge

International solidarity and cooperation

The labour movement's international engagement rests on solidarity with workers worldwide who fight for economic and social justice

Publisert 02.03.14, endret26.04.14

Peace, democratic rights, equitable distribution and strong organisations based on broad, popular participation are preconditions for sustainable societies and for development, and in and of themselves important goals for LO's international solidarity work.

Trade unions spearhead the struggle for better living and working conditions. Labour's fight for trade union rights is essential to reducing poverty. Stable, democratic societies very often have strong labour movements. Defending workers' interests worldwide is also important to Norwegian workers:  Events abroad affect conditions in Norway.

The international labour movement is put to the test by an ever sharper competition, increased trade and cross-border investments, and changing labour markets. The financial crises in recent years have caused innumerable jobs to disappear, sparked widespread social unrest, and put more pressure on trade unions, shop stewards and acquired trade union rights. In large parts of the world unemployment is on the rise, hitting a whole generation of young workers especially hard. Reducing poverty and promoting development require fostering economic activities and creating new jobs, all the while protecting the social dimension. LO demands that the government follow up on their Decent Work Strategy, based on the ILO Agenda for Decent Work.

There are more than 40 million refugees and internally displaced persons in the world. LO will promote dignified asylum and refugee policies that comply with the recommendations issued by the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees.

Trade union rights

Trade union rights are fundamental human rights, as established in the UN Declaration on Human Rights. The freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and to industrial action, and cooperation between workers, employers and governments are all essential to the creation of just and democratic societies. The rights of workers and their organisations are widely abused in many countries, some of which resort to violence to crush trade unions. Union representatives are killed, arrested and harassed. LO will actively seek to change this situation.

Everyone has the right to a secure job that pays a decent wage. In more and more countries, the trend is for increasingly precarious ties to the world of work, through the proliferation of short term contracts and casual work. Many scrape by as street vendors and in other informal activities, while large numbers of people are forced to move in order to find work.

Migrant workers live under difficult circumstances, far away from their families and often suffer appalling housing and working conditions. Racism and sexual harassment are rampant. LO considers the defence of migrant workers' rights to be a core task of the labour movement. ILO convention no. 189, which ensures domestic workers' their trade union rights and better social protection, was an  important breakthrough. LO supports efforts to organise workers in the informal sector and will work to promote legislation guaranteeing a set of minimum regulations that cover all workers – no matter where they work. The ILO conventions must be upheld and labour inspections buttressed. Violations of labour legislation at home and abroad must be monitored and prosecuted by the authorities.

Building and developing trade unions

The labour movement is an important corrective to many governments. Strong unions become important players in civil society, contributing to a more just distribution of social benefits. LO's solidarity work aims to assist the growth of strong, representative and democratic trade unions worldwide. LO will continue their efforts and enhance cooperation with trade unions in new and strong economies, including China and Brazil.

LO will continue to place the rights of the Palestinian people on the agenda and demand increased pressure on Israel to comply with the UN resolution on withdrawal from the occupied territories. Support to the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) must continue.

Gender equality, social justice, welfare, poverty reduction, curbing HIV/aids, and the fight against trafficking and child labour have been at the core of LO's international work. Affiliates and local branches are important partners in the practical implementation of our solidarity. In Norway and internationally LO works closely with the Norwegian People's Aid. LO will further develop our solidarity and humanitarian work through the Norwegian People's Aid.


The salient feature of the world economy is globalisation and internationalisation. Multinational companies employing thousands of people are powerful players. Companies deliberately relocate production from rich, industrialised countries to countries that offer lower production costs and weaker trade unions. Respect for trade union rights is undermined.

The ILO labour standards and the right to and existence of real opportunities for decent work must be incorporated into international trade rules and regulations, as well as into the trade agreements that Norway signs with other countries. Issues related to trade union rights and the international campaign for decent work should be put on the agenda of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other organisations that work on trade issues. Norwegian companies operating abroad must be required to follow ethical guidelines and uphold human and trade union rights.

The distorted distribution of resources requires a global economy and redistributive policies. Norway  must help to develop a common European and international policy for financial markets governance.
LO will lobby for an international tax on financial transactions, which, coupled with the ongoing policies to eradicate tax havens, will provide a better basis for financing global cohesion and solutions to the challenges posed by climate change. LO supports the demand for increased transparency and democracy in international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Institutions need to take into account that a well-functioning public sector is precondition for welfare and growth.

Defence and security

Norway must enhance peace and disarmament efforts through binding international cooperation in a  variety of fields. Reducing poverty, curbing environmental damage and fostering respect for human and trade union rights are also security policy.

LO supports the demand for an international ban on nuclear weapons. LO will also continue to work for the abolishment of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The enormous supply of conventional weapons, including small firearms, poses a great danger. Conventional weapons are involved in those violent incidents that cause the largest number of victims. The Norwegian government must continue their efforts enhance control and non-proliferation of both weapons of mass destruction and conventional means of war. LO will lobby for a common standard in Nato for end-user documentation on the purchase and sale of weapons.

LO will work towards further developing a balanced national defence based on domestic responsibilities. Norway needs to have a defence that benefits from popular support and
participation through compulsory military service, and that safeguards the fundamental need for security of the State, the population and society. This requires a credible and long-term defence and security policy that also promotes stability and predictability.

An increasingly technological society, climate change and challenges in respect of serious crime and terrorism necessitate a coordinated and robust contingency and security policy based on efficient cooperation between civil and military authorities.

The High North is Norway's most important strategic priority area. The Norwegian government must ensure an active presence to ensure control and enforcement of Norwegian legislation and sovereignty. Cooperation with the High North coastal states should also be enhanced in order to solve our common challenges in respect of resources, their exploitation and management, and environmental concerns.

LO assumes that the use of Norwegian military forces in international operations outside of NATO's territories be authorised by international law and be mandated by the UN.


Our neighbouring States in Europe and the European Union (EU) are Norway's most important economic and political partners, and they are also our most important export market. Predictable and mutual cooperation is necessary to ensure Norway's access to the EU internal market and regulatory conditions that are on a par with those of other EU and EEA countries. For the past two decades, the EEA agreement has served Norway' s interests in this respect. The EEA Agreement is thus the basis for LO's trade union policies in Europe.

LO believes that the social dimension of the internal market needs to be reinforced. Ensuring common minimum regulations in the field of labour legislation and preventing social dumping should be highly prioritised tasks. In recent years the trend has been to the opposite; there is a rise in attacks on existing rights and a decrease in new community minimum standards. The financial crisis has compounded difficulties by pressuring domestic wage formation, collective agreements and fundamental trade union rights in many European States.

The EEA agreement affects the Norwegian world of work and our society through decisions taken in Brussels. LO demands that the Norwegian government oppose any restriction on the right to use collective means of action, the collective bargaining system and the right to national wage formation. The ILO conventions, Norwegian collective agreements and Norwegian labour legislation must take precedence over community regulations. This precedence needs to be clarified between the signatories to the EEA agreement.

LO demands that Norway have an active policy towards Europe. Norway must exploit the full scope of the EEA agreement to influence the design of new regulations and their transposition into Norwegian law. The political authorities need to ensure that Norwegian interests are safeguarded. An early-on approach to political processes is the key to influencing the outcomes. It is vital that the government have a good dialogue with the social partners when transposing EU regulations into Norwegian legislation. The right of reservation must be exercised against EU directives that restrict national policies to prevent social dumping or encroach on trade union rights and welfare regimes.

LO will strive for a closer Nordic political and trade union cooperation. LO has cooperation with and coordinates trade union activities with the Nordic Trade Union Council. The Norwegian government must be an active force in strengthening Norwegian and Nordic interests in Europe through active cooperation with the Nordic countries.

LO takes part in the design of trade union policies at the European level through our affiliation with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). Active involvement in the ETUC is our most important channel for exerting influence on the design and development of the employment, social, education and gender parity policies of Europe and the EU. LO's cooperation with the ETUC will be prioritised and our efforts to defend and further develop trade union rights in the EU and Europe will be intensified.

LO will play an active role in the EFTA Consultative Committee on workers' rights and the social dimension in EFTA's work on trade agreements, and their work in respect of the EU and EEA cooperation.

Trade union and social rights are weak in the newest EU member States and those that have been instituted are under heavy attack. LO will help to strengthen trade union rights and the social dialogue in these countries by means of the Decent Work Fund and tripartite cooperation. The Fund should be maintained in future EEA finance schemes.

LO will continue our cooperation with Russian trade unions at the local, regional and national levels. LO will put emphasis on trade union organising, trade union rights and exercising joint trade union influence over developments in the High North.

LO will continue our cooperation with trade union organisations in the Baltic States in order to reinforce the labour movement and trade union rights.

 From LO plan of action - congress may 2013

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