Programme for the Welfare Conference 2012

Monday, May 21


10.00 – 10.10, Sal A: Opening

Performance: Sara Ramin Osmundsen

10.10 – 12.30, Sal A: The cost of inequality
– and politicians’ willingness to pay

There is a global ongoing struggle over how resources and wealth
should be distributed in society. The distribution of wealth is
closely related to democratic governance, redistribution through
taxation and the existence of universal public welfare services and
social support from which everyone can benefit. In the last resort
it is all about the distribution of economic and political


  • Sue Christoforou, Equality Trust, UK
  • Rolf Aaberge, Statistics Norway
  • Josefin Brink, MP of the Swedish Left Party


Politicians, debate:

Knut Storberget (The Labour Party), Jan Tore Sanner (The
Conservative Party), Inga Marte Thorkildsen (The Socialist Left
Party), Per Olaf Lundteigen (The Centre Party), Torstein Dahle (The
Red Party), Kjetil Solvik Olsen (The Progress Party)

Moderator: Nina Hansen, journalist and




13.30 – 15.30: Parallel seminars A

A1, Auditoriet: Inequality in Norway

Economic equalisation does not come easy, it is a result of
social struggle. In Norway, as in many countries, this struggle led
to the creation of a universal and comprehensive welfare system,
redistributive taxation and a system of centralised wage bargaining
which all have contributed to the equalisation of income. However
this redistributive system is under attack. The hallmark of this
attack is the increasing wealth among the rich and the increasing
levels of poverty. Children and youth are the most exposed, and the
entire social fabric of society is challenged. How has the
development in Norway been? What is the situation today? And what
is the next step to promote just distribution?


  • Rolf Aaberge, Statistics Norway
  • Lars Gunnesdal, Manifest Analysis
  • Sissel Seim, Head of Social Research, Oslo and Akershus
    University College
  • Moderator: Linn Herning, adviser, the
    Campaign for the Welfare State


A2, sal A: Precarious work in Norway?

Job security, regulated working hours and a wage to live from
have always been at the core of our trade union struggle. Work
contents and influence in the work process have also been central
in the fight to humanise and further develop work life. Currently
much of this is under immense pressure from strong counter-forces
in society. Employers want to reverse the development, demanding
increasingly more flexibility. Some of the results are more agency
workers, weakening of working hours regulation, more competition to
push wages down, workers who are forced to register as
self-employed, the degradation of work and ever more examples of
social dumping and direct violation of labour laws.


  • Roy Pedersen, President, LO in Oslo
  • Lotte Elstad, author
  • Sten Gellerstedt, Swedish Confederation of Trade Unions
  • Moderator: Asbjørn Wahl,
    Director, the Campaign for the Welfare State


A3, Forum: Social class in education: Can schools neutralise
the differences?

Research shows that parents’ background has a large impact
on children’s educational choices. In addition this impact
increases throughout the education. Children from a family of
academics are getting the best grades. The educational system is
often praised as an arena for social equalisation. Now that we see
the strong correlations between family background and education, it
is time to ask whether the school is capable of evening out social
differences at all. How much responsibility for evening out social
differences should we apply to the teacher? This is the main theme
for this seminar.


  • Anders Bakken, Senior Researcher, NOVA (Norwegian Social
  • Oddrun Samdal, Professor, University of Bergen
  • Solveig M. L. Gulling, Teacher at Holmlia skole
  • Moderator: Ida Sandholtbråten,
    President, Education Students in the Union of Education Norway


A4, sal D: Growth, wealth and happiness – Are they

For poor countries economic growth is an important precondition
to improve the quality fo life for its inhabitants –
provided, of course, the existence of power relations which make
sure that the increased wealth are distributed to the benefit of
most people. In rich societies, on the contrary, we experience that
increased wealth does not necessary lead to better quality of life.
Rather, new problems occur, like increased stress, more mental
illnesses, new types of health problems, increased use of drugs,
etc. At the same time, our overexploitation of resources leads to
enormous environmental problems and threats of climate
catastrophes. Can we imagine wealth without growth? Can our
economic system tackle it? What is possible, what is necessary,
what is realistic – and how are these problems


  • Ove Jakobsen, Professor of Economics, University of
  • Paul Rækstad, Master in philosophy
  • Roar Eilertsen, Director, De Facto
  • Moderator: Helene Bank, Special
    Adviser, the Campaign for the Welfare State


16.00 – 18.00: Parallel seminars B

B1, Forum: Production of food

In the 70s the Norwegian Parliament decided to drastically
increase the farmers’ income. After a short period of income
growth this development faded. Again the income gap between farmers
and other groups widened. Despite highly increased efficiency and a
rapid productivity growth the average income in agriculture has not
increased in real terms since the beginning of the 80s. Today the
average income per work year is about 13500 Euro. How do we treat
our food producers? And why should we not just open the borders
completely for food import? How is the farmers’ development
in real income since the 70s related to other political
developments in the same period?


  • Espen Løkeland-Stai, journalist and author
  • Vegard Vigdenes, farmer
  • Heidi Lundeberg, Campaign for a new agricultural policy
  • Moderator: Merete Furuberg, President,
    Norwegian Farmers’ and Smallholders’ Union


B2, sal D: The struggle against poverty

In a recent report on poverty to the Ministry of Labour, the
Norwegian Welfare Services recommended to increase the level of
social support in order to reduce the large group of children and
young people who are now living in poverty. In Denmark the new
government has promised to increase the lowest social benefits,
which previously had been introduced to “make work pay”
as they call it when they want to force people to work by making
them poor. Why is this co controversial in Norway? Research and
experience prove that poverty makes it more difficult to find a job
and to become integrated in society. Do the politicians distrust
those who are excluded frm society so much, that they think that
both they and their children must live in poverty?


  • Sissel Seim, Head of Social Research, Oslo and Akershus
    University College
  • Johanna Engen, The Poorhouse
  • Jørund Gustavsen, representative from the union NTL
  • Moderator: Linn Herning, adviser, the
    Campaign for the Welfare State


B3, Auditoriet: Private or public
consumption – What is the problem?

The private sector produces while the public sector consumes.
This is often how today’s division of labour between private
and public sector is presented. At the same time, this logic
implies that private funeral agencies contribute to a
nation’s income (GDP) while a birth at a public hospital is
categorized as consumption. At this seminar we will discuss what
value added is, and how this should be distributed in society. We
will also take a look at the development in private and public
sector, and how public sector is used to redistribute wealth.


  • Hilde Bojer, Economist and member of The Committee of
  • Jan Mønnesland, Economist
  • Steinar Krogstad, National Secretary, The Norwegian United
    Federation of Trade Unions
  • Moderator: Kim-André
    Åsheim, adviser, the Campaign for the Welfare State


B4, sal A: Crisis in Europe: From welfare to social

There are now over 23 million unemployed people in the EU area.
One in five young people under 24 years of age are without a job.
In countries like Spain, Greece and Latvia, half of the youth
cannot find a job. Children and youth are the most exposed to this
increase in poverty. At the same time income in the top 1 per cent
increases. Iceland is still struggling hard, but has managed to
avoid the rise of poverty we have seen in the rest of Europe. Also,
the employment levels in Iceland are relatively high. Is the
difference between Iceland and the EU simply that Iceland allowed
the banks to fall and refused to nationalise the debt? Also, what
are the challenges in tomorrow’s Europe?


  • Fátima Aguado Queipo, Youth secretary, CCOO, Spain
  • Kenneth Haar, researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory,
  • Maria Pentaraki, MSW, Ph.D.,Senior Lecturer, SWCJ, Liverpool
    Hope University, UK
  • Moderator: Emilie Ekeberg, Journalist,


19.00 – 21.00: Evening seminar at The House of
Literature: Youth and unemployment in Europe

This is a seminar in cooperation with labour movement youth at
The House of Literature.


  • Fátima Aguado Queipo, Youth secretary, CCOO,
  • Maria Pentaraki, MSW, Ph.D.,Senior Lecturer, SWCJ, Liverpool
    Hope University, UK
  • Sue Christoforou, Equality Trust, UK
  • Moderator: Benedikte Pryneid Hansen,
    President, Attac Norway


Tuesday May 22


09.00 – 10.45, sal A: From exclusion to

What kind of society do we really want, and what view on
humanity should this be founded upon? Do people have to be forced
to work by the threat of poverty or should we preserve and develop
redistribution and the welfare state? What policies could come in
the aftermath of the financial crisis?


  • Daniel Ankarloo, teacher at the College University of
    Malmö, Sweden
  • Karin Andersen, MP, Socialist Left Party, Norway
  • Asbjørn Wahl, Director, the Campaign for the Welfare
  • Moderator: Helene Bank, Special
    Adviser, the Campaign for the Welfare State


11.00 – 13.00: Parallel seminars C

C1, sal A: Taxation and distribution

Taxation contributes to the redistribution of resources, both
through public services and through equalization of income. The
so-called “tax promise”, which froze the level of
taxation on the 2004 level, has contributed to an increasing gap
between private consumption and public consumption, undermining the
welfare state. The financial crisis and the deregulation of the
financial sector have both led to dramatic increases in income for
the top 1 per cent population, also in Norway. We will take a look
at which groups pay taxes and what constitutes the largest share of
the state’s income. What should tomorrow’s changes in
taxes be? Should the “tax promise” survive the next
election? We will also take a look at how the politicians in
Trondheim managed to win the election despite their plan to
increase municipal taxes.


  • Ådne Cappelen, Researcher, Statistics Norway
  • Hallvard Bakke, Fagforbundet
  • Svein Olav Aarlott, representative from The Norwegian
    Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) in Trondheim
  • Moderator: Helene Bank, Special
    Adviser, the Campaign for the Welfare State



C2, Auditoriet: Housing: Investment
objects or a human right?

Was not housing supposed to be a right, as opposed to an object
for speculation? Has the idea of “owning instead of
renting” contributed to the skyrocketing housing prices? In
that case, how should we solve today’s problems in the
housing market? After a massive liberalisation of the housing
market the last 30 years or so, we now find ourselves in a
situation where the class differences in the housing market are
enormous. Youth without wealthy parents do not have much chance of
getting into the housing market. Sole providers can only dream
about finding a home within Oslo’s city limits. In this
seminar we will take a look at how the Norwegian housing policy has
developed since the 70s. What political actions can be undertaken
to secure the right to housing for everyone?


  • Jardar Sørvoll, NOVA (Norwegian Social Research)
  • Tore Johannesen, NBBL (The Co-operative Housing Federation of
  • Berit Mathisen, the Welfare Alliance
  • Moderator: Roar Eilertsen, Director, De


C3, sal D: Pension: Social insurance or individual

Polls have shown that less than half of the population know what
they will receive in pension when they grow old. With this backdrop
it is not a mystery why the pension debate often turns into a
debate between experts. At this seminar we will cast light on some
of the most important pension policy alternatives. What is really
the difference between individual pension funds and social pension
funds? What happens with workers’ rights when they are being
solicited, and why is there such a pressure from the employers in
favour of individual pension savings? What distributional struggles
do we face in the pension debate?


  • Fanny Voldnes, Head of Social Economic Department, Norwegian
    Union of Municipal and General Employees
  • Steinar Fuglevaag, Norwegian Union of Municipal and General
  • Dag Westrin, National Secretary, Norwegian Civil Service
  • Moderator: Ebba Boye, Manifest


C4, Forum: Private welfare – winners and

We will take a look at some of the effects of the ongoing
commercialisation of welfare services. Are we witnessing a division
of the services in two parts – for instance when an
increasing number of people are buying themselves ahead in the
waiting lists for operations, or with private insurance have access
to instant treatment in private hospitals? What are the effects of
the growing number of private nursery schools?


  • Dr. Inge Axelsson, Professor, Östersund Hospital,
  • Eli Gunhild By, President The Norwegian Nurses
  • Bjørgulf Claussen
  • Moderator: Asbjørn Wahl,
    Director, The Campaign for the Welfare State




14.00 – 15.30, sal A: Plenary: How to conquer the

The European social model is at risk. Social and economic
inequality has increased dramaticly in great parts of the world
over the last 30 years, while neo-liberalism has prevailed. Also in
our country we are experiencing increased pressure from aggressive
employers. We have witnessed increased social dumping, more
commercialisation of public services and increased inequality.
Neither will we go untouched through the ongoing economic crisis.
What are the alternatives to further dismantling of the welfare
state and increased inequality? What can we do to reduce
inequalities and strengthen democracy? In short: How do we conquer
our own future?


  • Dean Hubbard, Senior Adviser, Transport Workers’ Union of
    the US and Occupy Wall Street
  • Jan Davidsen, President, Norwegian Union of Municipal and
    General Employees
  • Rigmor Hogstad, President, Social Workers’ Union of
  • Monica Okpe, Shop steward at DHL Oslo
  • Kjersti Barsok, Vice President, The Norwegian Confederation of
    Trade Unions in Oslo (LO i Oslo)
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