Letter to the editor: Join a union, prevent exploitation!
Many international students don’t realise that Norway has strict labour laws and that they have very strong labour unions. We need to get the information out to our students about the existing labour rights and the possibility of joining a union.
For many students that are coming to Norway, the students visa fee, the deposit that you need for school and the high living cost in Norway comes as a small shock. This makes it necessary for many students to have an extra job outside school. This makes the students vulnerable for exploitation since they are in a new country where they don’t speak the language and don’t know the rules.
Recently there was a case of exploitation in media where the employee was given no sick pay, was asked to wear clothes they did not feel comfortable with and was given undesirable shifts if they complained about their rights. Even though this is not only the foreign students that are being exploited, it is they that is in the highest risk group.
Many international students don’t realise that Norway has strict labour laws and that they have very strong labour unions. We need to get the information out to our students about the existing labour rights and the possibility of joining a union. In this way they will feel protected when facing unlawful circumstances while at work.
All workers in Norway can join a union. It depends of what kind of job you have and what kind of union you prefer. The advantage with becoming a union member is that if problems should arise at you work place, then you have institutional protection from people who know the rules and can fight for you. They can be accompanying you during your job interview, salary negotiations.
The biggest ones are LO, Fagforbundet, Akademikene and delta …. It is as easy as ABC to be a member of a union. You just go on their website and register. You will need to pay a percentage (1.45%) of your income to the union.
As the International Student Union (ISU) we emphasise that we are here to help international students to assimilate into Norwegian society and help them with the rules and regulations that will apply to them. Please if you face any difficulties or discrimination at your work place do not hesitate to contact us for help and advice.
We need to find more efficient means of disseminating information on labour rights to the students so that when they apply for work they will be in a better position to negotiate their terms. More importantly, universities and all student organisations/groups need to join in creating awareness by arranging courses and using workshops and other avenues such as social media to enlighten international students about their labour rights.