Hotel Workers Strike Tomorrow

Wage negotiations

Around 700 hotel workers in Reykjavík and the surrounding area will go on strike tomorrow, RÚV reports. While the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise contested the legality of the strike vote conducted by Efling Union, the Labour Court ruled today that the process was fully legal.

The one-day work stoppage will begin at 10:00 am tomorrow morning and will end at 23:59. The strike affects around 700 Efling Union members working in cleaning, housekeeping, and laundry services in hotels and guest houses in the Reykjavík capital area, as well as some nearby municipalities.

SA had disputed the legality of the vote, saying that according to the Unions and Labour Disputes Act, only union members directly affected by a proposed strike are permitted to vote on the action. Efling had permitted some 8,000 members to vote, not only those directly affected by the strike. SA then took the case to the Labour Court, who announced a ruling in Efling’s favour this afternoon.

Efling’s chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir stated she was “incredibly happy” about the ruling. “I very much look forward to tomorrow,” she told reporters.

Dreki and Mávur Win Big at Ram Awards

Dreki sheep

Dreki from Hrifla farm (above) and Mávur from Mávahlíð farm are the winners of the annual sheep breeding awards. The choice rams were awarded the coveted prizes for “best breeding ram” and “best lamb father” respectively. While many of Mávur’s offspring have been lucky enough to inherit his snow-white woollen coat, Dreki boasts over 855 female and 340 male offspring around the country.

The prizes, awarded by Iceland’s sheep breeding centres, were presented to the rams’ owners at a sheep farming conference held in Reykjavík on March 1. Breeding centres around Iceland provide farmers with choice rams for hire to mate with their ewes. If their ewes are not fond of travel, farmers can also choose breeding rams from a registry and have their sperm delivered.

Mávur from Mávahlíð.

“Mávur’s parents mothers trace their origins to the powerful herd that has been in Mávahlíð for decades,” the jury’s comment reads. “Mávur has been in use for two winters at the centres and both years has been among the rams farmers most want to use. Mávur’s offspring is extremely uniform and combine good build, moderate fat, and good looks extremely well. Very many of them have inherited the pure white and rich wool of their father.”

Dreki, whose name means Dragon in Icelandic, is not the first of his line to be awarded for his contribution to breeding: his father Grábotni and maternal grandfather Borði are both prize-winners. “[Dreki] was immediately well-received by farmers across the country and has always been among the most-used breeding centre rams for the four winters he has served,” the jury’s comment states. “Dreki’s offspring are always well-developed, with a long torso and thick back muscles, good thighs and moderate fat.” The jury adds: “Derki’s daughters are more than moderately fertile but their strength lies particularly in great milk.” Two of Dreki’s sons are also sought-after in breeding centres around the country.

Hopefully Dreki and Mávur are enjoying their status to the fullest, as rams can only receive each honour once.

Tourists Decreased by 6.9% in February

Keflavík Airport

Departures of foreign tourists from Keflavík Airport decreased by some 11,000 individuals, or 6.9% in February 2019 compared to the same month last year. The data comes from a joint press release from the Icelandic Tourist Board and Isavia.

UK and US citizens were the most numerous groupsof foreign visitors last month, representing 45.3% of all departures. Travellers of both nationalities have decreased, however. Some 9% fewer UK citizens and 19% fewer US citizens visited Iceland in February 2019 than February 2018.

Some 288,000 foreign travellers have departed from Keflavík Airport since January 1 of this year, a decrease of 6.4% compared to the same period last year.

Environment Minister Meets With Climate Strike Organisers

Climate Strike Iceland

Environment Minister Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson met with organisers of the weekly climate strike last week, RÚV reports. The ongoing strike, organised by the National Union for Icelandic Students (LÍS) and the Icelandic Upper Secondary Student Union (SÍF), is meant to urge governmental action on climate issues. According to a press release from LÍS, last week’s protest drew over 200 attendees, including elementary and secondary school students, university students, and the general public.

At the meeting, the Minister and strike organisers went over the protesters’ demands, which are first and foremost immediate and more ambitious measures to fight climate change and increased budget allocation to address the issue. The Minister and organisers agreed that the government cannot solve the issue alone. The organisers, however, emphasised that the government must take the lead, as it holds legislative power.

Strike representatives have also requested to meet with Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson. While Katrín has invited the group to meet with her on March 13, Bjarni Benediktsson has yet to answer the request.

The strike is inspired by Greta Thunberg whose school strikes for climate in Sweden have garnered widespread attention and led to youth protests in Belgium, Britain, the United States, Australia, and Germany. Iceland’s third weekly climate strike will be held tomorrow in Austurvöllur square between 12.00 and 1.00pm.