RPT-Norway govt intervenes to end strike, stop oil shutdown

Mon Jul 9, 2012 11:37pm BST

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OSLO, July 10 (Reuters) - Norway's government intervened to stop a strike of offshore workers and a planned lockout to prevent a total shutdown of oil and gas production, the labour minister said, just after a midnight deadline.

"I had to make this decision to protect Norway's vital interests. It wasn't an easy choice, but I had to do it," Labour Minister Hanne Bjurstroem told Reuters after meeting with the trade unions and the Norwegian oil industry association (OLF).

Leif Sande, the leader of the largest labour union Industri Energi, representing more than half of 7,000 offshore workers, said workers would return to work immediately.

"It's very sad. The strike is over," he told journalists. (Reporting by Vegard Botterli)