torsdag 18. oktober 2012

The Price of Comradeship in Norway

The personal connection and loyalty of friendship, and even just working-relationship, is stronger than internal policy and even serious laws which are  in the Øygard case, there to protect children and make it easier to prosecute offenders.

This has two notable symptoms or rather disabilitating effects on companies and individuals : for the first it leads to " we are good old comrades, and we will fix this without stressing about it" and the related side effect of level of trust placed in comrades to actually fix things. Secondly as in the case above, it means that rules and even laws are there as far as they don't go over the power of personal relationships and respect for long term connections.

It applies to many aspects of life, but expecially unfortunetly personnel policy which is quite lacking or just lip service to the rules and laws when it comes to loyal employees getting their way at the expense of others!

I have been moved to a rather back water job for the moment, same pay and conditions, because of this chummyship. Seen it all too often.

mandag 15. oktober 2012

Avoid Being Had in a Job. Playing Hard Ball in the Norwegian Labour Market

A huge proportion of newly created positions in norway are going to immigrants. Dagens Næringsliv, the FT of the country, quotes over 3 of four going to "invaders".

A lot of them are going to be "had". I have, many of my pals from abroad have. It will continue.

Being had means basically not getting as good a deal as a Norwegian would get, but being conned into thinking it is "par for the course" in terms of pay and conditions.

It means being on contracts, having monkeys dumped on your back ( happens in any country), and runs as far as being moved or sacked so a norwegian can get your job, as has happened to me 2.5 times in 8 years here.

How do you avoid "being had"?

Well it all boils down to being hard nosed and taking it not just to-the-wire, but over it. It starts with interview and job offer stage.

1) Work round recruitment consultants and temp agencies: they will only prolong your rather undesirable period as a temp and reduce your potential earning if you went direct. Firms in general are pretty okay with direct applicaitons while they are using a temp or recruiter bureau.

2) Say at interview that you know the going rate for the job and you would expect that. Find out the going rate for graduates ( between 280 000 and 380k )  and then add about 2.5 % per years experience you have in that field. Add another 10% for a technical college education / apprenticeship earlier in life and another 10% if you have a masters, 20% with a good MBA.

3) Be very clear on what you want in any "possibilities for extension or permanancy": either great experience, no rubbish, but temporary OR something that you will hope becomes permanent. You should not need to temp in Norway for more than 6 months,  in most professions where your qualificaitons and experiences are recognised.

4) Buy time to think about a low offer on a job. Ask to come back to a final discussion on the position and see the location, ask about what tasks they have planned for you. Norwegians are terrible for dumping monkeys off their backs onto temporary immigrants, and that can include dead end projects and dead end sales leads. Balance up though if the experience is worth while,

5) On a low offer, you may want to take an 80% position: sounds contradictory, but then you can use the other day to enjoy yourself, shop around for cheaper stuff you need in life and most of all looking for better paid jobs.

6) anything they promise at interview in respect to future wage reviews, commission on sales, bonuses etc you have to get in writing

7) also in writing, you want to get your right to over time in black and white, over for the terrible abuse of flexitime: hour for hour instead of your deserved overtime and a half or more. This is a legal gray area, the employer can land on the employee as having "chosen flexible Working Hours". If you are required or asked to work more than 8 hours then it is overtime. If you choose to work longer and take out the hours later, it is choice. But be clear: Norway is so expensive that you MUST earn time and a half on weekday overtime. Walk out the door, or say you were hoping to do something with the night, make it damn clear you are taking overtime.

8) Contracts should detail your job description., all you remuneration as above, period of notice and pay review point then.

9) When you get an okay-ish job, yet you know your skills are in at least some demand, then keep on looking for work and applying, so you can do 10

10) If you are p**d off with temping, lower wages that colleagues, less job security, ever changing work tasks etc, then make sure you have a job to move

11) If you want more pay or better condiitons in the job you have, then do 10. Be hard nosed, make sure your other offer (s) is unconditional and walk into firstly your boss with the letter and also have a meeting with Personnel or the MD prearranged to explain your reasons for leaving.

12) play hard ball: wait to do this until the point at which they most need you. If you are a temp on a large project, then wait until it goes critical and is boiling over and threaten to leave if they dont give you a permanent post with your time served to good as trial-period months.

The latter is all because mysteriously they will offer you quite a good deal if you threaten to leave.

A little more background

There are several  sources of trouble for you as an immigrant.

 For the first they have a UK 1950s view point on immigration- a bit of a novelty, we can use you for temporary work, then you can probably disappear back home please.

Secondly there is a very high "on cost" of social security and pension payments for employers. This means that permament employ can evade many and in fact even large institutions have been caught breaking the law. Small companies, as in the UK and other places come out with the old " we cant afford to pay you very much" or " we have a lot of people here who work really hard and earn just a little more than this even" Bullshit. For a graduate with five years experience on shore, ask for 420 000 minimum in business or academia.

Then there is experience: Norwegians go up about 3 to five percent a year and often you will be offered the basement price on a job even if you have the experience or related experience. This is discrimination. Some experience will not be accepted as relevant enough for pay negotiation.

Lastly there is the "rødt, hvitt og blått " glass ceiling. You are very, very unlikely to be promoted to middle management unless you have very special skills and abilities. So think that you are likely to remain at a fairly low level, or as a consultant without real management responsibilities and you need to aim to earn as much as you can because it is so expensive to live here.

onsdag 10. oktober 2012

Let's Be Careful ....your job ?

Immigrants in norway now account for over two thirds of employees out of all newly created positions.

This is for several reasons: one, like me, they accept a lower wage because they do not quite know just how darn expesnive it is to live here and neither do they know that many long term employees have crept up the scale and earn about 20-30% over average despite being in quite lowly positions. Employers can get round tariffs by ignoring education from abroad.

two: employers world over would rather employ someone who is trained elsewhere than bother to train them themselves.

three: because immigrant labour is expendable: it takes up all the positions which Norwegians fly from - the indefinite temp. Norwegians only keep these jobs if it suits them! Otherwise they rightly so look for permanent employ,

But being expendable has come a little too far for me.

And here is the Irony number one:

In the UK if you are going to be treated a little unfairly in terms of a change of department, of responsibilities or just plain "monkey shedding" then usually the boss will be a bit sheepish and sugar coat it and maybe if you squeek even a little with the ends of the mouthy down, then they will negotiate some upside for you. They may well invlove you and break you in gently or even give you the option of trying it out.

 Here, in the socialist paradise, they just land it on you. Bomp, the decision is made that your plum job is going to a Norwegian ( happened three times to me at least that I know of!!)

The second irony is this:

It is me as a man ( and an immigrant) who is being discriminated against in favour for a woman.

This is in my case due purely to rich daddy and toy-out-of-pram politics but in other cases you may know of, and when I have been at a longer distance away in the recruiting process, my line of work is often the area where companies try to make up their female head count and be seen to be promoting into management.

In all three cases where it has DIRECTLY happened to me, I did or would have done a better job and colleagues were suprised I either got sacked, moved or did not get the one position I was more or less ideal for in favour of a pretty little Norwegian age 24 with two years in business and a rich daddy who knew the right people.

Alll three were plum jobs. If you want to hammer nails in -20'C for 150 krone an hour, then you are welcome in norway however!!!!