Shouts warning: – Never experienced before

– We see that our members, the employees of the Customs, are leaving at a speed we have never experienced before.

That’s what Karin Tanderø Schaug says. She is the union leader in the Norwegian Customs Union and has worked for the Customs Service for 27 years.

Now she sounds the alarm.

– We are known as a workplace that is “from cradle to grave”, so now it is startling to see that people quit across the board, she says.

The reason why her members put the uniforms on the shelf is clear, she believes: Salary.

– We lose people almost weekly now. They get jobs in both the private sector and in other state enterprises such as the police, the prison service, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, NAV, the tax authorities and so on, she says, and adds:

– My claim is that they then go up on average over 100,000 kroner in salary, like that without further ado. The wage level becomes so low that the members can almost no longer make a living from it, says Schaug.

CONCERNED: Union leader Karin Tanderø Schaug in the Norwegian Customs Union. Photo: Norwegian Customs Association
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– Can not afford

According to SSB is an average monthly salary in Norway NOK 50,790. This amounts to an annual salary of NOK 609,480.

Among customs officers, the average is far lower, says Schaug.

– Customs employees are on average less than 500,000 in salary after both 20, 30 and 40 years in the agency. It’s not very attractive. Now it is the case that people can actually not afford to work in the Customs even if they want to, the union leader says.

She is worried that the flight from the profession will mean that there are not enough people at work for them to do their jobs.

– What happens is that then we do not have enough customs officers to carry out the social mission. We become vulnerable in large and small places, we have to reduce opening hours and perhaps close down customs offices. There will be a significantly lower level of control. They can become open borders and it will affect the safety of both our members, but also society as a whole, says Schaug.

In recent years, the Customs has made major investments and invested heavily in digital tools.

– But it does not help much with digital solutions and intelligence tools if we do not have people to actually take the seizures or carry out the assignments. The investments have almost been wasted if no one wakes up soon, she says.

Requires an answer

The union leader has now sent a message of concern to the Ministry of Finance and Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum (Sp).

The message is simple: the customs service needs the government to set aside more money to ensure preparedness at the borders.

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– We have to do something. The ministry must do something. We must have a framework that can provide space to create career paths, provide the opportunity for pay rises and that makes it motivating to work in the Customs again, says Schaug.

– The ministry must see the seriousness that is now upon us, she says.

Dagbladet has been in contact with the Ministry of Finance about Schaug’s report of concern. They have not yet commented on the case.

Familiar with the issue

The head of the Customs Service, director of customs Øystein Børmer, is aware that many are dissatisfied.

– I am well aware that over time there has been increasing dissatisfaction with the wage level among many customs graduates in the agency. This has been reinforced, among other things, by the fact that we have implemented significant restructuring, in addition to increased recruitment of other education groups with higher salary levels, Børmer writes in an e-mail to Dagbladet.

He further writes that they have made a survey of the wage conditions, which to a large extent confirms Schaug’s description of reality.

– The wage statistics show that a significant proportion of the agency’s customs graduates have a wage level that must be said to be low compared with other occupational groups in the public sector, the director of customs writes.

SVINESUND: A historic khat seizure took place on Svinesund in mid-January. Video: Customs.
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He therefore understands that the union is now going to the government to get an answer.

– As a follow-up to the survey, we have, among other things, carried out extraordinary wage negotiations to correct some of the imbalances that were revealed in the agency’s new organization. Nevertheless, in the dialogue with the unions, I have been clear that in my view it is outside the agency’s framework conditions to make significant increases in wage levels for such a large group of the agency’s employees as we are talking about here. Therefore, I understand that the union wants to raise the issue of wage levels to the political level, writes Børmer.

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