Norway: simplicity in labor relations, business, and politics

The project team visited Norway on 22-25th of September. Norwegian project partners prepared an excellent and intensive program for Lithuanians. It started with the meeting in Steinkjer municipality, where guests were welcomed by mayor of Steinkjer Bjørn Arild Gram. Representatives from local trade union and municipal administration presented their experience in tripartite collaboration in Steinkjer. Representatives from three Lithuanian municipalities (Ignalina, Kupiskis and Ukmerge) spoke about their experience in social dialogue. Mayor of Kupiskis was also present.

While visiting local rehabilitation / medical center Egge Helsetun, Lithuanian project team was introduced to the health care system in Norway. In Mære agricultural college Lithuanian team discovered the style of local farming and high standards of education for future farmers. Later that evening Lithuanian delegation had a possibility to see agrotourism in practice in Berg Gård, where local farmer together with his wife run the farm where two businesses – tourism and production of natural food found their place under one roof. It was very important for Lithuanian team to see this example, because Agrotuorism is a very important branch in Lithuanian regional economy. However it lacks a link to food production. The Berg Gård example inspired Lithuanian project team to bring new ideas from Norway to thousands of agrotourism business owners in Lithuania.

The next day project team was welcomed by the National Research and Advisory Center for Rural Development. Gunnar Winter introduced the center, Sara Kveli Skjervø presented the project named NærUng, which was created in order to encourage young entrepreneurship and as a method for job-creation and cooperation. Also there were presentations about preventive health and child protection in Norway.

Later on delegation visited Nord-Trøndelag Elektrisitetsverk NTE, where information about the state owned company was gathered. The main target of this company is to produce, distribute and sell green and renewable energy. The representative of a trade union spoke about the role of the trade union, the delegation was also introduced the project – broad band high speed internet for all and model for a successful cooperation in order to reach that goal. After lectures an excursion to the renovated power-station in Fallafoss took place.

The value of simplicity, taking everybody seriously, respect and equality, - these were some of the main things that were mentioned by the team members about Norway during the trip evaluation. The Journey to Norway contributed to strengthening the project team and encouraging it to build three different teams in municipalities. We saw the country where public sector is treated seriously, but we are not able to copy that to Lithuania, because situation here is quite different. We have to find our own way to cooperate, to find topics, in order to gain mutual benefit. We (especially trade unions) have to learn to articulate clearly what we really want and start to look at the different ways to reach our goals and then take actions.
The team members were strongly impressed by the regional project NærUng, which involved work with pupils in order to help them discover their talents and thus in the future create their own businesses. This project made us understand how important it is to see abilities and talents of every youngster. Lithuanian municipalities lack activities which would help young people to discover their own talents. Municipalities do not see young people as their target group. Young people that are about to graduate secondary schools get information about job opportunities in Lithuania’s regions only after they start packing their luggage in order to emigrate to other countries or big cities. Work with them should start much earlier, like in Norway. Hopefully the experience of NærUng will give us the strength to continue “Youth forum” format in Ignalina and start implementing Vadim’s idea on youth exchange program in biathlon area.

Team members from Ukmerge had a great possibility to gather knowledge about health care services in Norway. This should impact them to continue developing new topics on health subject.  

In general we see that tripartite cooperation can overlap with the district elected council work, however we can try to avoid that.  And even if there is a lack of trade unions in some of municipalities like Kupiškis or Ignalina, we have to involve municipal employees to the dialogue.

The trip also gave us a possibility to get to know each other. It was especially useful to have a business representative in our team. It was interesting to listen to his arguments and try to understand how business is thinking. Experience sharing should continue also in Lithuania, because what we saw in Norway made us to think of how (and why) we should do it in Lithuania.

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