A walk down memory lane in the heart of Reykjavík.
Heavy snowfall slowed down morning traffic in the capital area today, causing a four-car pileup and more than a dozen other minor traffic accidents. No serious injuries have been reported. Snow and gale conditions are expected across South and East Iceland this evening and throughout the day tomorrow.
A yellow weather alert is in effect in the Reykjavík capital area and West Iceland. While weather will improve in both areas early tomorrow morning, the storm will move east across the country throughout Friday, affecting South and East Iceland as well as the Highland. The worst conditions will be in Southwest Iceland tonight, where an orange alert has been issued from 6.00pm this evening until midnight. Blowing snow, limited visibility, and gale or severe gale conditions can be expected in these areas.
Travellers are advised to check road and travel conditions before setting out.
No progress was made toward a new collective agreement for Efling members at yesterday’s meeting between the City of Reykjavík and Efling Union. Both parties published notices yesterday expressing disappointment at the lack of development. No further negotiation meetings have been scheduled at this time. The general strike affecting preschools, primary schools, welfare services, and garbage collection continues.
Disappointment on both sides
“The Negotiation Committee of the City of Reykjavík expresses great disappointment that no more progress was achieved at the day’s negotiation meeting with Efling’s Negotiation Committee,” a notice from the city states. It goes on to say that the city’s guiding light in the talks has been “to raise in particular the lowest wages with special emphasis on the wages of female professions.” The City reiterated the terms of their offer that were made public last week. They include an increase in the average monthly wage of general staff in preschools to ISK 460,000 ($3,620/€3,300) by the year 2022; cutting four hours from the work week, and increasing the number of vacation days to 30 for all employees of the City of Reykjavík.
A notice from Efling Union also expressed “disappointment and heavy concern” over the unsuccessful meeting. The Union criticised the city’s slowness, inconsistency, which “are not consistent with the level of seriousness of the wage dispute.”
“The mayor makes all sorts of dazzling promises in the media, but what happens in the negotiation room is in no way consistent with that,” Efling’s chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir stated.
Parents feel the pressure
It’s ten days into the strike, and parents of preschool children are feeling the effects. “It’s starting to take a toll, you’re taking leave to cover it, and working on weekends,” Alexandra Þórlindsdóttir, a parent in the Vesturbær neighbourhood, told RÚV. The effects of the strike on preschool services vary significantly depending on the number of Efling employees and their position. While some preschools are offering part-time care, others are closed entirely while the strike lasts. The neighbourhood of Breiðholt appears to be the most affected.
Over 50% support strike actions
A poll conducted by Maskína on behalf of Efling shows significant support for striking workers. While 59% stated that they strongly or fully support Efling in the wage negotiations, 20% said they were indifferent, and 21% held little or no support. When asked whether they supported Efling’s strike, 56% of respondents strongly or fully supported the strike, 19% were indifferent, and 25% were opposed. The poll was conducted between February 14 and 21 and had 871 respondents from all around the country.
Over 100 immigrants from more than 20 countries are taking part in a program that will help them develop, set up, and operate a food truck specialising in food from their home countries. Vísir reports that the would-be food truckers are attending an eight-week course co-sponsored by Innovation Centre Iceland, The City of Reykjavík, and Reykjavík Street Food.
“These are all people who want to bring their food culture to Iceland,” said Fjalar Sigurðarson, marketing director of Innovation Center Iceland. Immigrants don’t always know how to get ideas like this off the ground in Iceland, he continued – “they don’t know where they should look and sometimes don’t know the language. So they need some help getting started.”
“We’re trying to help them as much as we can,” continued Fjalar, although he was adamant that “no one is giving them anything. They have to do this for themselves and have the ideas…what kind of food truck and what kind of food [they] want to introduce to Icelanders and tourists.”
The 100 participants make up 24 different teams. During the first class on Monday, participants worked on designing their menus. A Thai family who wants to open a food truck called Baitong, which means ‘Banana Leaf,’ was among the participants, as were a Pakistani couple, and a woman from Senegal.
The course was advertised before Christmas and a preliminary class was given to introduce the initiative. A hundred and fifty people attended the introductory meeting.
Participants who succeed in turning their food truck dreams into reality will be given the opportunity to take part in street food events in Reykjavík, such as on Culture Night and June 17, Icelandic Independence Day.
“We’re hoping that this spring, Icelanders and tourists will get to try their food, which comes from every corner of the globe,” said Fjalar.