On Monday morning, the mythical Committee for Cooperation between the Labor Party and the Norwegian Trade Union Confederation met to chart a red-green course.
– Through this committee, we have the eyes and ears of a million people in working life, says Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre.
Hardly any political body in Norway is as mythical as the “Cooperation Committee”. It was created in 1927.
Meets every other Monday morning at 09.00 in room 805 in Folkets Hus. Serving is simple: coffee and tea. The walls are bare except for a poster from the interwar years: «LEISURE must not be killed. It must be full of life! “
But the political menu is a heavy diet. Here are the prime ministers, leaders and sometimes ministers of the Labor Party. LO sits across the table with the leader at the head of several LO secretaries.
After eight years in the opposition, the smiles are lost. But there is little room for hugs. The leaders of the political and professional part of the labor movement have bad moments and great political ambitions.
– For LO, this cooperation is important, whether or not the Labor Party is present. The tradition of discussing important issues together is the foundation of our collaboration, says LO leader Peggy Hessen Følsvik.
Right: undemocratic conspiracy
The Civita think tank is critical of the committee. For other parts of the right, the cooperation appears to be an undemocratic conspiracy that gives LO too much political clout.
– When influencing parties and politics is highlighted, the uniqueness of the link between Labor and LO rarely emerges, both financially and organizationally. This creates a risk of ambiguity about roles and responsibilities. And in the worst case scenario, conspiring and having LO gain disproportionately large power relative to those who are elected locally and nationally, says Civita leader Kristin Clemet.
He fears that tripartite cooperation – government, employer and employee – will be thrown out of balance because LO will have too much influence.
– There may be an imbalance between LO and other employee organizations. And between the employer and the employee when LO has its representatives in the governmental apparatus, says Clemet.
– I think it is a historical claim of the right that historically is bad, now as then. The decisions made by LO in congress are open and democratic. Decisions made by the Labor Party at national meetings are open and democratic, says Støre.
The two pillars of the union movement have developed union cooperation for more than 100 years. But the time with a pure Labor majority and LO as the totally dominant representative of the common people, is history.
– So we also have a good dialogue with the other organizations in working life. We will use this tripartite collaboration much more actively to meet the challenges we face, says Støre.
– Is this where the government clique and the big questions decide?
– No, it’s not like that. But the Labor Party always listens to the information we get from LO. In that way, we listen to a million workers. It is of great value both for politics and composition, responds Støre.
Someone has spoken together
Aside from the best shop stewards, only a select few advisers can participate. During periods of government power, Labor ministers are right when they are summoned to account for disputes or poor craftsmanship.
It is often talked about how important issues in the heyday of Aps were decided through careful nods or quick glances among Youngstorget’s most powerful leaders.
In addition to the central board of Ap, reference is made to this committee.
The phrase “Some of us have spoken together” is a concentrate of political power found in the alliance between Labor and LO, when the leaders agreed.
But now there is a less dominant and more open labor movement. Monday’s meeting focused primarily on summarizing and analyzing the election. He was portrayed as an election winner by the Cooperation Committee, despite the decline.
– It is quite natural what is on the agenda today, says the leader of LO Følsvik smiling.
– I also think it’s a very good selection. It has been the mobilization around the issues that have been important to LO: the desire for a new government, important issues related to order in working life, reducing emissions and creating jobs.
– We have been part of a winning team. It has lasted longer than the electoral campaign. A work directed over several years, adds Støre.
And Støre is ready for LO to take something back.
– Great power and influence
Stein Aabø, a former Dagbladet journalist, will publish a book on the controversial committee this fall.
– It has a very great power and influence. But they act as two independent organizations. It’s not that they decide everything that happens. They leave the issues they discuss, to the respective organs in LO, or to the government when the Labor Party has the power of government.
– From the right, can you give the impression that there is something mythical and undemocratic in the construction?
– At least he’s shrouded in a myth. I think it’s a lot because you think that decisions are made in a cube. My experience, after going through the protocols for 94 years, is that it is clean and tidy. The minutes are written as in any other assembly, says Aabø.
The minutes, on the other hand, are usually characterized by everything that is not there, more than what is written.
– The protocols are very scarce. It says, for example, that “The briefing is noted.” What you decide is how a case should be followed up after its content has been discussed.
– There is no doubt that this is a powerful committee. It has shaped Norway over the years, says Aabø.
– Collaborate or connect?
– Cooperation. Absolutely, says Aabø.