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Norwegian affiliate press charges against private health company

21 August 2018
Mette Nord, President of Fagforbundet.
"This is a very serious matter, where a large and professional private health company has taken advantage of our members," says Mette Nord, President of Fagforbundet.

The union has notified the health and care company Aleris Ungplan & Boi AS to Økokrim, which is the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime – the main source of specialist skills for the police and the prosecuting authorities in their combat against crime of this kind.

The company is part of the Aleris Group, one of Norway's largest private companies providing health and care services. The PSI affiliate Fagforbundet requests that the company would be investigated for possible serious workplace crime, fraud, document fraud and tax evasion.

At the same time Fagforbundet has alerted the Labor Inspectorate, the Tax Directorate and the County Governor about the alleged crimes.

Culture of fear

"There was a fear culture on the whole mill. You had to do what was told, it not you were told you behaved difficult, says "Marius", to the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. He is one of the consultants that is now pressing charges against the private health corporation.

The timesheet of another former employee shows that he started working at 08.00 AM on August 19 and does not leave work until the 27th of August at 22.00 PM -  9 days of coherent work. Only two of the night shifts were dormant shifts where he was allowed to sleep.

-You sleep now and then when it's nothing happening. But of course you are walking around and being dull, says "Zafer" to Dagbladet.

"If you complain, you will not get more work. Then the company says that "you may not need more shifts here," he claims.

Zafer believes consultants gets exhausted under the system Aleris operates with.

Requires postpayment from private health company

  • The background for the case is that Fagforbundet assist several of their members who have sued Aleris Ungplan & Boi AS (AUB).

  • The company has engaged them as self-employed "consultants", even though they have actually performed work as in a regular employment relationship.

  • The trade union members are now claiming a verdict which strikes that they have always been employees and not consultants.

  • In addition, they require to receive after-payment for overtime and other benefits in recent years, in accordance with the collective agreement, holiday law and occupational health and safety legislation, as well as registration of occupational retirement scheme.

  • Several of the plaintiffs reclaims more than 100 000 Euros in postpayment.

Company saved money on overtime, sick pay and retirement costs

At this time, the lawsuit encompasses around 20 of the union members. The members have, among other things, worked at housing care for people with problems related to substance abuse, psychiatry and disability.

In the work of the lawsuit, it has become clear to the union that the company has had major economic benefits from treating employees as self-employed "consultants" and not employees. The company has saved expenses for overtime, sick pay and retirement for employees, while at the same time having failed to pay social security contributions to the public sector.

Exploited the employees

Fagforbundet believes they have revealed how the company has exploited its employees. It has been common to work 70-120 hours during a week and working shifts for 14 hours.

In many cases, the workers have spent several days working without having the possibility to rest, as the law requires. The trade union believes the workload has been so huge that it may have affected the vulnerable people living in these institutions.

- This is one of the worst cases we have seen of social dumping in publicly funded welfare services. Now we expect the Norwegian government to investigate the circumstances that have been revealed, says Mette Nord, President of Fagforbundet.

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