The aim of this article, written by David Jordhus-Lier, Neil M. Coe and Sindre Thon Bråten, is to understand the development of the temporary staffing industry in Norway since the deregulation in 2000 when the ban on hiring-out of labour and private mediation of labour was lifted. According to the authors, the activities of the staffing firms that constitute a national industry can only be understood in the context of wider contested processes of market-making involving multiple actors. The industry itself is one such actor, proactively lobbying for regulatory change through the national trade association. But in young and strictly regulated markets, the national state and the national employer and union federations remain the key players. It is also argued that the nature of national labour laws, and struggles thereon, are defining characteristics which set the Norwegian market apart from the neighbouring Swedish staffing market.
Ann Cecilie Bergene and Keith Ewing raise this question in their article in Søkelys på arbeidslivet. They discuss the historical and regulatory background and possible consequences for the implementation of EU Directive on Temporary agency work (2008/104/EC). The discussion is based on a two-pronged process involving: (1) a weakening of the social security net and (2) the increasing precarity of workers. Bergene and Ewing draw on experiences from the UK. While the Treaty of Versailles established the fundamental principle «labour is not a commodity», this has been modified to the extent of being abandoned by the implementation in 2013 of the directive legitimising the marketisation of employment relations, they argue.
Bergene and Ewings article have received attention from Torstein Nesheim and Birthe Eriksen. According to Nesheim and Eriksen the assertion that the directive have legitimized the marketization of employment relations does, when looking at legislation, not apply for the Norwegian context. In short, Bergene replies that emphasis on legislation is narrow and threatens to overshadow important changes in perceptions as well as in the economy.
In the article, Maiken Bjerga Kiil and Hege Merete Knutsen explores how agency is conditioned by structures and context that constrain and enable successful action. They find that individual acts of coping may enable and empower more collective actions of reworking and resistance. Kiil and Knutsens arguments are based on a case study of the “Not below 24,000” movement among nurse students and newly graduated nurses for acceptable entry wages in Sweden. The movement has succeeded in raising the entry wage for a number of newly graduated nurses. Individual agency by frustrated nurses has created a labour market with shortages of nurses in Sweden where new graduates are in high demand. Using collective agency the movement has exploited the situation and acquired power in several ways. Among the data material is 18 in-depth interviews with Swedish contract nurses in Norway; interviews and information in writing from managers in four Norwegian health enterprises and hospitals; and interviews in two temporary work agencies.