Doing global investments the social democratic way: The 'business case' for Statoil's support to union work among its employees in Tanzania
(University of Bergen)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the attempt at exporting the Norwegian tripartite collaboration model to the Tanzanian context and the encounter between this 'travelling rationality' and the Tanzanian reality characterized by split unions and unions that were set up during the one party era.
Paper long abstract:
In 2010, multinational companies discovered large reserves of natural gas outside the Tanzanian coast. One of the companies that has entered a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with Tanzanian authorities is Statoil (recently renamed Equinor). Statoil is a former National Oil Company (NOC) and the Norwegian state is still the majority owner (67% of the shares). This paper explores Statoil's engagement with, and active support to, union work among their Tanzanian employees, in collaboration with the Norwegian union Industri Energi and the global organization Industry All. Envisaging having more than 3000 Tanzanian employees within in a short time, the management of Statoil Tanzania were convinced that the Norwegian model, which emphasizes the tripartite collaboration between employers, unions and government, would be beneficial to their operations. The paper explores the encounter between this 'travelling rationality' and the Tanzanian reality characterized by a situation where newly established split unions compete with the unions that were set up during the one party era. The initial idea of setting up a collective bargaining agreement withered as Statoil postponed its final investment decision, and the 'business case' for active support to union work lost momentum. The paper builds on interviews and ethnographic observations with Statoil staff and national union leadership in Norway and Tanzania in the period 2015-2018, and draws on the author's 25 years of research experience in Tanzania.
Globalized workers and trade unionism