Íslandsbanki Lays Off 20 Employees

Íslandsbanki laid off 20 employees today, most of whom worked at the bank’s headquarters in Smáralind, Vísir reports. The bank dismissed 20 employees in September and 16 in May.

In an interview with RÚV, Birna Einarsdóttir, CEO of Íslandsbanki, expressed lament. “The days are always sad and tough when we must resort to such measures.” Íslandsbanki’s staff has shrunk by approximately 90 employees, or 10-12% in total, in 2019.

“We cannot guarantee that this will be the last round of lay-offs, but we hope so.” According to Birna, the banking environment is evolving rapidly and Íslandsbanki must evolve as well. “Some of these changes today are organisational in their nature. Job descriptions are changing.”

An earnings report for the third quarter indicated that return on equity was below the bank’s target. “It’s our goal to improve return on equity to the satisfaction of the bank’s owners. To that end, various measures must be taken.”

Terms of notice differ between employees. According to Birna, the term of notice is approximately six months. In most cases, however, the employees will cease work at the end of November.

Íslandsbanki is fully owned by the Icelandic State Treasury. It is not the only bank to have laid off employees this year. In September, Arionbanki laid off approximately 100 employees.

Paramedics Injured Responding to Bus Accident

Two paramedics were injured while responding to a bus accident in South Iceland yesterday, Vísir reports. The two were walking down the road when they were thrown by a strong gust of wind, with one sustaining a mild concussion. A press release from Icelandic Search and Rescue described the weather in the area as “absolutely crazy,” with winds reaching speeds of 40m/s.

No passengers injured

Search and rescue volunteers were called out at 8.12am yesterday morning due to a bus that had veered off the Ring Road near Eyjafjallajökull in South Iceland. The bus had ended in a shallow river, but none of the 23 passengers, all foreign tourists, were injured. Response teams transported the group to a response centre the Red Cross had set up nearby. According to ICE-SAR’s Public Relations Officer Davíð Már Bjarnason, the bus’ passengers remained calm and the process went smoothly.

Foreign tour company criticised

The bus was operated by foreign-based tour company European Coach Services, which has been criticised by members of Iceland’s tourist industry for skirting local regulations when it comes to both workers’ wages and customer safety. Haraldur Teitsson, chairperson of Félag hópferðaleyfishafa (The Group Travel Licence Holder Association), stated in an interview earlier this year that ECS paid their employees ISK 5,000 ($41/€37), “not per hour, rather per day for a 10 to 12 hour shift.” Such salaries would constitute social dumping, illegal for any company operating in Iceland regardless of where it is based.

Foreign-based tour companies have also been criticised within the industry for putting their customers’ safety at risk. Hlynur Snæland Lárusson, owner of Snæland Travel, stated that most Icelandic companies cancel tours in the weather conditions that caused yesterday’s accident. “All of these Icelandic companies work similarly, those that have a fleet [of vehicles]. If the wind speed is above 30m/s we stop the vehicles unless there’s a particular wind direction,” Hlynur stated. He expressed concern with authorities for the lack of addressing the issue of foreign tour companies that skirt regulation.

Teenagers Caught Vaping Synthetic Cannabinoid Spice

e-cigarette

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1574244816241{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]A group of teenagers in Reykjavík were caught vaping the synthetic cannabinoid Spice (a range of laboratory-made chemicals that mimic the effects of THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis).

According to a statement released yesterday by the police in Reykjavík, the teenagers were stopped on account of questionable behaviour. The police subsequently confiscated the teenagers’ e-cigarettes and sent e-liquids to the University of Iceland Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology for analysis. The analysis revealed that the e-liquid contained the drug Spice, as well as nicotine. The Government Agency for Child Protection is currently collaborating with police authorities on the case.

As noted by police authorities, the find is a cause for worry:

“The police in the Greater Reykjavík Area would like to raise awareness and to encourage parents and legal guardians to be on their guard. Among the short-term effects of Spice – which is almost odourless – are feelings of joy and euphoria; however, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety attacks, and aggression are among the drug’s more serious side effects.“

This summer, nine teenagers in the Greater Manchester area collapsed from unwittingly vaping an e-liquid containing Spice. In an interview with Sky News, drug expert Michael Linnell stated that the risk of vaping spice was far more dangerous than from a natural cannabis product.

“It is difficult for even experienced spice users to judge dosage and unintentionally administering a toxic dose is common … severe poisoning is far more common with synthetic cannabinoids than with cannabis, and in some cases, the poisoning may even be fatal.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_image][/vc_column][/vc_row]