This is why petroleum engineer Mohammad Masoudi thinks it is especially important for international researchers to unionize.
Mohammad Masoudi was working at the University of Tehran when he met a fellow Iranian doing a PhD in Oslo.
“He told me about Norway. He said that it is a good place to live and start a family – that there is a good work-life balance here.”
Mohammad was curious and started looking for opportunities in Norway. In December 2018, the petroleum engineer moved to start his doctorate at the University of Oslo.
He studies carbon storage. Specifically, he’s a part of a team trying to estimate how much CO2 it’s possible to store in underground wells to combat climate change. One problem they are working on is how to prevent unwanted formation of salt crystals, that makes it harder to pump carbon dioxide underground.
The most important reason
Not long after his arrival, Mohammad and the other PhD candidates at his faculty were invited to a two-day seminar organized by the university. Forskerforbundet had a presentation.
“Union membership is not very common in Iran, but when I asked my supervisor and friends, I found out that it is normal to be a member in Norway,” he says.
He read up on the benefits of membership, and was soon convinced to join. It is especially important to be a member of the union when you are an international researcher, he explains.
“When you come from another country, you don’t know the language. It takes time and effort to understand the rules. At Forskerforbundet, you get the help you need from experts who have been working in this area for years.”
“They’ve got your back”
As a member of Forskerforbundet, Mohammad is entitled to legal assistance. If he has questions about his rights, salary level or working conditions, he can get answers from a local representative or the Central Office. “The folks in the union have your back. They support you,” he says.
Another benefit is the competitive insurance policies he gets through the union, he adds.
While unionization is prevalent among Norwegians, there are still a lot of international researchers who don’t unionize. Mohammad thinks it could be risky to not join the union.
“There is always the possibility that a problem will arise, and then you are on your own,” he says. “As a union member, you have more power. We are more powerful together.”