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Disillusioned Shell Whistleblower Runar Kjoersvik

By John Donovan - Royal Dutch Shell, March 17, 2017

We have published a series of articles about Runar Kjoersvik, the Norwegian safety expert who in 2014 was dismissed by Shell on trumped-up charges.

Evidence was gathered in a covert surveillance operation as part of a vicious campaign conducted against him by Shell Norway senior management.

Runar was twice elected by his fellow workers, first as a SAFE Union representative and subsequently as the Main Safety Delegate.

His election was not a fluke. The employees who elected him at the Nyhamna Gas Plant in Norway knew Runar was fully qualified. He had attended several Norwegian law and HSE courses where he learnt how to protect legal rights according to rules, regulations and Norwegian Law. He also earned a diploma of strategic leadership from college university.

So in general, he had very skilled training and a long education that has led him to different managerial positions in several international companies giving him flawless feedback prior to his time at Shell.

He was, therefore, confident that his skills for managing the Main Safety Delegate position were first-rate and genuinely believed he could do a good job both for his co-workers and for A/S Norske Shell.

Senior plant managers congratulated Runar on achieving the Main Safety Delegate position and told him:

You will now be able to make an influence on Shell in a greater perspective, you will get to know the organisation, and make an influence through the work environment committee. This will be very positive for your future development and career.

Runar was also impressed by Shell’s claimed core values: honesty, integrity and respect for people, set within codes of conduct and ethics.

The future looked good. A responsible job and a decent employer.

The promising outlook did not last very long.

He was subsequently informed about Shell’s plans to introduce a new safety regime in line with Shell Global guidelines and HR strategies. This involved systematic monitoring of employees and the introduction of an informers regime. Employees were required to inform on one another. Shell considered that the new guidelines were superior to the guidelines provided under the Norwegian Law system. 

Employee legal rights and agreements were being put under pressure, and protection against dismissal weakened. Employees could not see the point of all this monitoring and intrusive surveillance, which in fact was incompatible with Norwegian Law, rules and regulations.

Runar also discovered flaws in safety procedures and the deliberate manipulation of records. He reached the conclusion that Shell had no intention of complying with Norwegian Law. His respect for Shell management and its PR pledges evaporated.


I know now that what I experienced was pure hypocrisy “storytelling” apparently well known and often used in the HR mungo jumbo to create a type of virtual illusion, designed to mislead and manipulate the employees so that an individual will always believe and follow instructions without any questions, no matter what.

The ethical codes are actually unenforceable. A Shell Legal Director has said that they cannot be used in the courts. Like a bet placed in the UK, they are binding in honour only.  In other words, worthless when dealing with an unprincipled company such as Shell. 

After the terrible ordeal described in the various articles below, Runar is now under medical care hopefully recovering his health.

The outstanding courage of Mr Kjoersvik was recognised when he was recently honoured with the 2017 Zola Award at the Norwegian Nobel Institute Exhibition Hall specifically for defending the interests of Shell employees. A real David up against a nasty corporate Goliath.

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