Union Federation Calls for Minimum Wage Hike

The Federation of General and Special Workers of Iceland (SGS) is calling for a minimum monthly wage hike to ISK 425,000 ($3,660/€3,160), RÚV reports. The federation of trade unions published a list of demands for employers and the government regarding approaching contract negotiations for its members. The list also demands that the lowest wages be made tax free.

The demands also address housing, calling for a coordinated, national effort between the state, local governments, and pension funds to address housing shortages and rising housing costs. SGS also hopes to make registered rental agreements a requirement for landlords.

Overdose Deaths Increase from 2017

Thirty-seven people have died from drug overdoses in Iceland so far this year, RÚV reports. The number has already surpassed last year’s total of 34. Many more youths are currently hospitalised for drug addiction than six years ago.

The death of young people due to drug overdoses was the topic of discussion at an open meeting held yesterday by Náum áttum, a youth addiction prevention and education group. Of the 37 individuals who have died of drug overdoses this year, ten are under 30 years old.

Last year just under 1,100 people were admitted to hospital in Iceland due to drug poisoning. Compared to 2012, the numbers have decreased in older age groups but increased among young people, including a 40% increase in those in their early twenties. While older Icelanders tend to overdose with a combination of antidepressant medication and alcohol, in cases of younger individuals opioids and illegal drugs are a more common combination.

Ólafur B. Einarsson, project manager at the Directorate of Health, says young people are not being prescribed the drugs they overdose on, “they are getting these drugs in other ways.” Patients in other Nordic countries, however, receive far fewer prescriptions for habit-forming medication, Ólafur adds. “That’s the main difference between Iceland and its neighbouring countries.”

One-Lane Bridges to be Replaced in South Iceland

The number of one-lane bridges between Reykjavík and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in South Iceland is set to decrease from 14 to eight over the next five years, RÚV reports. Minister of Transport Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson stated such in response to a question from Left Green Movement MP Heiða Guðný Ásgeirsdóttir.

Many of Iceland’s most visited tourist destinations lie along this stretch of the Ring Road, where traffic continues to increase. According to the government’s transportation strategy for 2019-2023 and the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration’s plan, six one-lane bridges along the route will be replaced by 2023. By 2033, six of the remaining bridges are set to be replaced as well, leaving only two one-lane bridges on Route One between Reykjavík and Jökulsárlón.

The two one-lane bridges set to remain are the bridge over Skeiðarársandur sand plain, which measures 440m (1,440ft) long, and the bridge over Jökulsá á Breiðamerkursandi river, which measures 108m (350ft) long.

Iceland Faces France in Friendly Today

The Icelandic men’s national football team faces France in a friendly match this evening. RÚV reported first.

The match is the 18th ever between the two teams, who last met on the pitch in 2016 during the quarter finals of the UEFA Euros. The match ended 7-2 for France, whose team lost in the final to Portugal.

While Iceland has never won against the French team, they managed to tie in four games. The other 13 were wins for the French team, which was this year’s FIFA World Cup champion.

The match will be broadcast live in Iceland on Stöð 2 Sport at 7.00pm local time.