Wednesday, January 19

Proposal for a million salary splits the Storting

Never before has the wage settlement in the Storting created so much controversy: the Labor Party wants to freeze wages, the Socialist People’s Party and the Red Party want to cut it, while the Conservatives, the Green Party and the Socialist People’s Party have not reached a conclusion.

– It will be unmusical to grant us the wage growth that has been proposed, says Storting President Masud Gharahkhani (Labor).

As one of the very few groups in the country, the Storting representatives have not received a penny in salary increases since 2019. And if the Labor Party, the Socialist People’s Party and the Red Party get what they want, there will be no salary increase this year either.

The Labor Party’s parliamentary group decided just before Christmas that they want a wage freeze. It came as a big surprise to the Conservatives, Frp and Sp. All parties asked for more time to take a stand.

SV goes even further and wants to cut wages. Then, in the future, they will only give krone supplements instead of percentage supplements so that the distance to ordinary people does not increase.

– In anticipation of the committee that will look at executive salaries in the state in general and the Storting’s committee that will review the representatives’ schemes, we believe it is right to freeze the current remuneration for the time being.

-We are now cleaning up to regain confidence in the Storting. Therefore, in the Labor Party’s view, it will be unmusical to grant us the wage growth that was proposed, says Storting President Masud Gharahkhani (Labor Party).

Behind the unusual wage settlement at Løvebakken lurks fears about how a wage increase for the elected representatives will affect the revelations about the misuse of commuter housing, diet and severance pay.

The fact that the proposal from the independent Remuneration Committee means that the salary will also exceed one million kroner for the first time also plays a role.

Not everyone agrees that it is appropriate at the same time as the government says that it focuses on fighting inequality.

Normally unproblematic

It is the Storting’s presidency that recommends the salary increase for the Storting in plenary. Normally, it is a current case that ends with a majority for the committee’s proposal against the left – wing votes.

But this year the situation is not normal at all. The presidency failed to agree before Christmas and postponed the case until January 14.

– Then it will be clear what kind of majority and progress it will be, says Masud Gharahkhani.

Sp’s parliamentary leader Marit Arnstad says that “Sp has called for a freeze in 2020 and we stand by it”.

– But we have not advocated such a long-term freeze as the Labor Party is now in favor of. We will seek to find a solution that can create a majority in the Storting in terms of 2021 and the years ahead. This is currently being discussed in the presidency without me being able to advance the conclusion from there, says Arnstad.

The Conservatives and the Greens are waiting

Conservative Svein Harberg, the Storting’s first vice president, is working on the matter in both the party group and the presidency.

– We are working on the case, and hope to be able to clarify our final position next week, is all Harberg wants to say about the case.

Frps Morten Wold, the Storting’s third vice-president, also does not know where his own party lands:

– The FRP usually follows the committee’s recommendation. But the extraordinary situation we are in means that we will wait with our final conclusion until the presidency will issue its recommendation, says Wold.

Earns scanty million today

Today, the country’s leading politicians have the following remuneration:

  • Representatives of the Storting: NOK 987,997
  • Prime Minister: 1,735. 682 kroner
  • Ministers: 1,410. 073 kroner

Wages have been stagnant since 2019 pending a major review of politicians’ salaries. In parallel, the Storting appointed the independent Remuneration Committee in June. It consists of former judge Geir Engebretsen, professor Nils-Henrik von der Fehr and former stock exchange director Bente A. Landsnes.

This autumn, they proposed raising wages by 1.7 per cent for 2020 and 2.7 per cent for 2021. This is the same increase as the front-line subjects. This framework is used in the vast majority of wage settlements in both the private and public sectors.

The proposal that the parties must decide in the next few days will give the following new salary:

  • Representatives of the Storting: 1,032. 838 kroner
  • Prime Minister: 1,814. 454 kroner
  • Ministers: 1,474. 056 kroner

The proposal means that the Storting’s salary will for the first time exceed one million kroner. It is a symbolic boundary that several politicians fear will be taken badly by “ordinary people”. According to the Støre government, it is this loosely defined group that should now be given priority.

If the Storting decides to freeze wages, it means that the elected representatives have not received one kroner in addition since 1 May 2019. There is a noticeable decrease in real wages.

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