Icelandair Draws Criticism of Former Prime Minister

Former prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir has publicly criticized Icelandair’s recent decision to get rid of all part-time positions, Vísir reports. Jóhanna was herself a flight attendant before her career in politics.

As part of its optimization efforts, Icelandair has recently decided to get rid of all part-time flight attendant positions. The new full-time requirement will affect 118 part-time workers. These individuals will be offered full-time positions, but those who do not accept will be let go. Icelandair has emphasized that this new requirement will not apply to those who have worked for the company for 30 years or more or those who are 55 or older.

This initiative has drawn strong criticism from the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association. In her Facebook post, Jóhanna asked why the company hadn’t instead sought to limit the “excessive salaries” of their executives instead. She also questioned whether the move is in violation of the company’s policies on a family-friendly work environment and the flexible labor market. “Icelandair must examine this matter and withdraw this incomprehensible decision,” she wrote.

Idea that Iceland Has No Class Divisions a Myth, Says Sociologist

Although it’s often said that Iceland is a country without significant class divisions, a sociologist who has been studying this phenomenon for years says this is far from the truth, Vísir reports.

“What happened here from the mid-1990s up until the financial crisis [of 2008] is that economic inequality increased rapidly,” says Guðmundur Ævar Oddsson, who holds a doctorate in sociology and who for years has studied the phenomenon within an Icelandic context. “Particularly when it comes to income distribution, but also in terms of asset distribution.” Guðmundur says that although income distribution became more equal after the crash, the income gap is starting to widen once again, and so has asset distribution.

According to data from the City of Reykjavík, 2.9% of children up to the age of 17 receive some form of financial assistance from the municipal government. Guðmundur says that childhood poverty is, however, something that could easily be remedied if the decision were simply made to do so.

“All inequality is, in reality, a human invention, such that it’s possible for us to intervene. There’s no natural law that says that childhood poverty should be 5% rather than 0% or 10%,” he explained.

“Of course there are numerous studies—hundreds, if not thousands—that show that as the gap between groups or whatever you want to call the classes increases, it has a negative impact on crime rates, people’s heath, trust between groups, [and] political participation,” says Guðmundur.

Guðmundur’s message to the Efling trade union that he recently addressed and to the government at large simple: “It is to everyone’s benefit—even those who are rich and own the most—to try and keep the gap within reasonable limits.”

Two Icelanders Medal at Judo Competition for Juniors

Two Icelanders, Úlfur Böðvarsson and Árni Lund, medaled this year’s Swedish Open judo competition for Juniors and Cadets, RÚV reports. Úlfur won the gold medal in the Under 90 kg class, while Árni earned a bronze medal in the Under 81 kg group.

In addition to his gold medal, Úlfur received a special award at the end of the event for the best ippon, or one-shoulder throw, of the day.

Another Icelander, Grímur Ívarsson competed in the same group as Úlfur and nearly took the bronze, but was just edged out by his final opponent.

Brits Could Learn From Icelandic Fishing Expertise, Says Minister

The British could learn about creating a fisheries policy from Icelanders says Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. RÚV reports that Guðlaugur says that Iceland is prepared to lend the UK a hand in the task, which is one of the many logistical projects that the latter needs to resolve in advance of Brexit.

“The British have shown a lot of interest in our fishing system and they aren’t alone in that,” said Guðlaugur in an interview with RÚV. He noted that Michael Gove, Britain’s current Secretary of State for the Environment, has visited Iceland, “among other things, to familiarize himself with this very thing.”

Other nations have also shown an interest in Iceland’s sustainable fishing industry, Guðlaugur continued. “Last time I checked, we are the only nation within the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] which is getting a net tax from natural fishing resources or from the fishing industry as a whole,” he said.

Guðlaugur’s comments came in the wake of an article published in the UK paper The Telegraph which announced that “Iceland holds secrets of success for fishing after Brexit.” He was, in fact, quoted in the article, pointing Iceland’s expertise in this area. However, the British government has of yet not taken Guðlaugur up on his proffered guidance.