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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Norwegian beer supplies at risk
Norwegian beer drinker. Pic from Ringnes brewery
A Norwegian beer drinker laughs - nervously
These are worrying times for Norwegian beer drinkers - very worrying.

As if having some of the most costly beers in Europe wasn't bad enough, the country's brewery workers have gone out on strike, and supplies may run out.

With all production now at a halt, Norway cannot even import from neighbours Sweden or Denmark, because its truck drivers are also on strike.

The 2,560 striking full-time brewery staff fear that a growth in temporary workers may undermine job security.

They are especially concerned that Norway may be flooded with cheap labour from the new EU member states in eastern Europe.

Thirsty

For although Norway is not a member of the EU, it is part of the wider European Economic Area free labour market.

The trade union that represents the full-time brewery workers - the Norwegian Food and Allied Workers Union - wants the ability to veto hiring decisions, but employer representatives have refused to budge.

"We cannot allow employees to have a veto right when it comes to these matters, said Carl Roenneberg, director for the Federation of Norwegian Food and Drink Industry.

The strike is also stalling production at factories that produce soft drinks, and both these and beer supplies could run out if the walkout lasts beyond a few days, commentators say.

Arild Oliversen, a union spokesman, told the BBC's World Business Report that he expected to win, but that the strike could take months.

The separate truck driver strike has left most of Norway's grocery stores almost empty of eggs, butter and cheese.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Union official Arild Oliversen
"Unions and employers should agree before using workers from outside"



SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Norway
16 May 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Norway
16 May 04  |  Country profiles
Freeze boosts Norwegian wood demand
13 Nov 03  |  Business


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