The project in question is carried out through a contract between Statnett and the Canadian contractor Valard Construction, who in turn has employed staff from several countries at their Norwegian subsidiary Valard Norway to carry out the work connected to the contract. Several employees originating from Bosnia Hercegovina in addition has a contract with their employer in their home country. The control revealed that these contracts include a number of serious deviancies from the conditions set out in the contract between Valard Construction and Statnett.
The contracts in question include conditions that are deeply unreasonable for the employees, both in terms of the validity and time frame of the contract and specific wage conditions. The employees are compelled to pay back half of their net salary to a bank account in Bosnia Hercegovina, and are bound to do this for a period of five years. The contracts are also in practice impossible to terminate for the employee. If the employee does not fulfill these unreasonable conditions, the sanctions in the contract are dramatic, including a possibility for the employer to seize the home of the employer.
- These are very serious breaches of our contract with Valard Construction, and are completely unacceptable for Statnett. We are holding our contract partner responsible for these breaches and expect the conditions to be rectified immediately. Not only is this in contravention to our contract, it is also clearly violating the ethical requirements our contract partners sign with the contract. We strongly emphasize that this needs to be rectified with no negative consequence for the employees or their families, states Statnett's Executive Vice President Elisabeth Vike Vardheim.
- Statnett will cooperate with the authorities in their efforts to unveil all facts regarding the serious conditions, while the contractual obligation of Valard Construction to rectify promptly is clear. Statnett's priority is to ensure the rights of the workers afflicted. Statnett is also in a close dialogue with labor organizations on the issues, underlines Ms. Vardheim.
Norwegian Transmission System Operator Statnett is currently underway with a number of construction projects across Norway, and has clear guidelines included in all supplier and contractor contracts outlining the conditions and rights for workers in all its projects. The rules and guidelines are enforced through regular controls and audits. The conditions for the Bosnian employees were unveiled during such a control. All contractors are responsible for ensuring that the rules are adhered to, and have a separate duty to conduct controls with their own employees and those of any sub-contractor.