Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions

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Group.png Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions   WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
HeadquartersOslo, Norway
SubgroupsNorwegian Seafarers' Union
Interest ofNorwegian People's Aid
The largest and most influential umbrella organization of labour unions in Norway, closely connected to the Labour Party.

The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (Norwegian: Landsorganisasjonen i Norge, LO) is a national trade union center, decidedly the largest most influential umbrella organization of labour unions in Norway. The 21 national unions affiliated to the LO have almost 1,000,000 members of a Norwegian population of 5 million. The majority of affiliated unions organizes traditional blue collar workers, but the largest affiliate is the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees which makes up more than a third of all members.[1]

Ever since the first years in 1899, LO had very strong ties to the Labour Party, among other things through collective membership. According to the two organizations, the close co-operation between LO and the Labour Party is itself a co-operation between independent organizations with overlapping interests. The Labour Party also traditionally elects LO's top shop stewards to its central commitee.

Own surveillance central

Folkets Hus in Oslo

The union had its own wiretapping center, located on the 9th floor of the union's headquarters Folkets Hus in Oslo during the Cold War.

The mission of the wiretapping was to register and control both potential security risks and political opponents. The building was hired out as a meeting locale to most left-wing organizations in Norway, including the several Communists ones. From room 906 at LO's headquarters in Oslo, a few select employees could choose any conference hall or meeting room in the house and listen in headphones to what was said there. The tapes that were recorded were passed on to the surveillance services, primarily the military Norwegian Intelligence Service and the police POT, which made transcripts[2]. Copies of these were distributed to selected persons within the Labor Party, LO and the intelligence services.

The surveillance was revealed by Ronald Bye, who himself for a time was the main operative in the bugging. According to Bye, Paul Engstad sr. was the main organizer. The decision to install the was made by NCTU Chairman Konrad Nordahl and the first main operative Arne Hjelm Nilsen.[3] The room originally contained a register of 6000 people of interest, which was burned by Bye in 1969. [4]

Arne Kokkvoll, former head of the Labor Movement's Archive Section, said the system was nationwide: "It was not just Folkets Hus in Oslo that was intercepted. The wiretapping was set in a nationwide system, and I firmly believe that Folkets Hus were also monitored in other places in the country"..."I am absolutely convinced that the wiretapping was not just limited to Folkets Hus in Oslo. Especially in North Troms and Finnmark, Folkets Hus was bugged, and this has also happened elsewhere in the country. In Bergen, it has been known for several years that Folkets Hus in the city was intercepted."[5]

Ronald Bye says he was present when microphones were installed in Kokkvoll's office in 1968.[6]

Kokkvold also said that he was aware of several suicides as a result of ongoing psychological warfare, surveillance and terror. He also knew about alleged suicides among people in the Norwegian Intelligence Service who had talked about going public with what they knew about illegalities.[7]

The system was phased out by the early 1980s, as new technology for room surveillance through telephones was introduced. [8] Due to technical limitations, this led to a spate of people telling how their own conversations were played back to them when they lifted the receiver again shortly after a finished call. This system was again presumably replaced with untraceable electronic interception in the 1990s.

Stay behind

After World War 2 the Labour movement conducted an extensive surveillance and registering of its communist rivals, and were the main drivers in getting communist labour unionists fired from their workplaces. Rolf Gerhardsen, brother of Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen, led this work, under cover of his main job as editor-in-chief of Arbeiderbladet.

The Labour party, including NCTU, was the central part of the stay behind system, of which little is known.


Related Quotation

Norwegian Labour Party“The Labour Party is no damn Sunday school.”Haakon Lie1975


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Kaare SandegrenHead of the international department19711994
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  1. Ole Storeng (3 May 2013): Lederskifte gir ingen revolusjon Aftenposten, retrieved 6 May 2013
  2. Ronald Bye, Finn Sjue De visste alt page 10
  3. Ronald Bye, Finn Sjue De visste alt
  4. Ronald Bye, Finn Sjue De visste alt page 12
  5. Akershus Arbeiderblad 26 November 1993
  6. Akershus Arbeiderblad 26 November 1993
  7. Quoted in Ramm/Setsaas Grogate, page 352
  8. Ramm/Setsaas Grogate (in Norwegian) page 364