Midwives Approve New Contract

The Icelandic Association of Midwives has voted to approve a new employment contract with a 95% majority. RÚV reported first. An overwhelming 91% of members voted on the deal.

When national broadcaster RÚV contacted chairperson of the Association of Midwives Katrín Sif Sigurgeirsdóttir for comment, she had not yet been informed of the outcome of the vote. Katrín expressed dissatisfaction that the government’s negotiation committee would publish the results online without informing the midwives’ negotiation committee first.

“We thought the results would be presented to us at two o’clock,” Katrín stated. “This really is the cherry on top of our relations with the government.”

The contract approval brings to a close a 10-month-long wage dispute between the association and the government. Midwives asserted their salaries did not reflect their level of education or the responsibilities inherent to their profession. Over 20 midwives resigned from their positions, most at the National University Hospital, as a result of the dispute. It remains to be seen whether they will return to their jobs.

Iconic Reykjavík Post Office to Close in November

Reykjavík’s only downtown post office is set to close in November, bringing over 150 years of service at the location to a close, RÚV reports. The post office, along with another outlet in Seltjarnarnes, is being closed and relocated to Hagatorg square in west Reykjavík.

The post office in downtown Reykjavík has been housed in the same building for over a century. It is located on Pósthússtræti, which translates literally to Post Office Street.

“Pósthússtræti has been a post office street from the beginning,” says historian Guðjón Friðriksson. The street was named after an even older post office operated in a wooden house where Hotel Borg now stands. That office was opened in 1872 and was in service until the current building came into use. “There have been post offices on this street for 150 years or longer,” Guðjón says. “I think it’s a bit of a shame that this old hallmark of Reykjavík should go.”

Iceland Post says the office is moving to accommodate the changing needs of its customers. “Of course it’s difficult to leave Pósthússtræti, especially in light of its history, but unfortunately no other solution was found and it had become clear a long time ago the post office would need to move into more adequate housing,” a representative told RÚV.

According to the company, the inaccessibility of the location has hampered both customers and staff. The office is located on a second floor and only accessible via a flight of stairs. It was also proving difficult to receive shipments at the location due to a lack of parking spaces nearby. The company asserts that its wide network of post offices and home delivery services will be maintained, and additional mailboxes will be installed.

Iceland Post sold the building on Pósthússtræti in 2003 and has been renting at the location since. The building has also housed youth community centre Hitt Húsið for several years. Guðjón Auðunsson, CEO of Reitir, the company which owns the building, says it remains unclear what will happen to the space once the post office vacates the premises.

NATO Sends 15 Fighter Jets and 300 Airmen to Iceland

Three hundred US Air Force airmen have arrived in Iceland for NATO’s regular patrol of Icelandic airspace. RÚV reported first. Accompanying them are staff from NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem, Germany. The Air Force comes to the country with fifteen F-15 fighter jets.

According to a press release, the operation involves landing exercises at airports in Akureyri and Egilsstaðir between July 31 and August 8 but is expected to continue throughout August.

NATO has carried out similar exercises in Iceland in recent years in accordance with their Icelandic Air Policing operation which involves regular patrols of Icelandic airspace. Iceland is one of NATO’s founding members, and its only member without a standing army.

The operations are executed by the Icelandic Coast Guard in co-operation with Isavia. The Icelandic Coast Guard is responsible for the implementation of defense-related projects under the Defense Act (no. 34/2008).