Two Thirds of Icelandic Nurses Prepared to Strike

Nurses Hospital Landsspítalinn við Hringbraut

Two out of every three nurses are prepared to strike in order to improve their working conditions, according to a survey conducted by the Icelandic Nurses’ Association (FÍH) earlier this month. Nurses have been working without a contract for over a year, and wage negotiations between FÍH and the state have not proven successful. Nurses voted down a contract proposal signed by FÍH and the state in April.

According to the survey, which was conducted between May 7-10, nearly half of nurses are prepared to go on a general strike (49.6%) and 32.5% are prepared to go on an overtime strike in order to advance wage negotiations (respondents could select more than one option). Survey results also revealed that while nurses were satisfied with some of the rejected contract’s provisions – namely to shorten the workweek and adjust the working hours of shift workers – their biggest issue with the contract was that it did not raise nurses’ base salary enough.

FÍH chairperson Guðbjörg Pálsdóttir says the takeaway from the survey is obvious. “Nurses are sending a very clear message. They are ready to go quite far to receive a salary that takes into account their education and the responsibility of their job,” Guðbjörg told RÚV.

Guðbjörg says it is too early to say whether nurses will in fact take strike action, but the survey results will be helpful in ongoing negotiations. “We have presented this to the state’s negotiation committee. We have very clear guidelines from our members to follow.”

Brush Fire Burns 15 Hectares in West Iceland

brush fire May 2020

Around 15 hectares burned in a brush fire that began last night in Norðurárdalur valley, West Iceland, RÚV reports. Over 100 firefighters and search and rescue volunteers worked through the night to fight the flames, putting out the final embers around 6.00am this morning.

Firefighters in Borgarbyggð municipality received notice of the brush fire around 6.00pm yesterday evening. The flames later spread to moss and brush in a lava field, terrain difficult for firefighters to access, particularly with vehicles.

Search and rescue teams used a drone equipped with a thermal camera to map where the flames were strongest. Heiðar Örn Jónsson, Assistant Fire Chief in Borgarbyggð thanked area residents who brought food and drink to firefighters as they worked through the night.

Vorum kallaðir út í gær til að aðstoða Slökkvuliðið við gróðureldanna í kringum Parardísarlaut. Fórum með sexhjólið sem…

Posted by Björgunarsveitin Heiðar on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Samherji Owners Transfer Shares to Children

Þorsteinn Már Samherji

The majority shareholders of one of Iceland’s largest seafood companies Samherji have transferred their shares to their children. Kjarninn editor Þórður Snær Júlíusson says the transfer is the largest “inheritance” in Icelandic history, worth between ISK 60-70 billion ($420 million/€383 million). Samherji made international headlines last year for an alleged bribery scandal in Namibia.

The largest shareholders of Samherji, Helga Steinunn Guðmundsdóttir, Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, Kristján Vilhelmsson and Kolbrún Ingólfsdóttir have transferred their shares to their children. Their combined ownership consisted of 86.5% of the shares in Samherji and after the transfer they will have just a 2% stake in the company. Þorsteinn Már, currently CEO of the company, and Kristján Vilhelmsson, managing director of ship operations, will remain in their positions.

Largest inheritance in Icelandic history

Þórður Snær Júlíusson, editor of media outlet Kjarninn, estimated the value of the transaction to be between ISK 60-70 billion ($420 million/€383 million) based on Samherji’s equity. Samherji representatives described the transfer as a combination prepaid inheritance and sale, both of which are subject to tax in Iceland. “We didn’t get an answer as to what the value of the shares is in this transaction and consequently it is difficult to calculate directly what the expected tax payments are. But I think it is a given that this is likely […] the largest amount of money that has ever been inherited in Iceland,” Þórður stated.

Maintaining family relationships

“By transferring shares to their children, the founders of Samherji want to maintain the essential family relationships that the company was built on and have been the cornerstone of its operations,” a statement from the company reads. According to the statement, preparations for the transfer have been underway for two years. After the transfer, the largest shareholders in Samherji will be Baldvin Þorsteinsson and Katla Þorsteinsdóttir, with a 43% stake, and Dagný Linda Kristjánsdóttir, Halldór Örn Kristjánsson, Kristján Bjarni Kristjánsson, and Katrín Kristjánsdóttir, with a combined 41% stake.

Samherji’s operations are divided between two companies, Samherji hf. and Samherji Holding. It is the shares of Samherji hf., which mostly operates in the Icelandic and Faroese fishing industries but also as an investment company, that have been transferred from parents to children. Samherji Holding oversees the company’s operations abroad, though it also has a 27% stake in Icelandic shipping company Eimskip.

Samherji is currently under investigation in Iceland, Norway, and Namibia due to tax evasion and alleged use of bribery to obtain fishing quota in Africa.

Music and Lyrics

If you google “Icelandic musicians,” his picture appears third from the right – right next to Björk and Of Monsters and Men.

Born on July 1, 1992 in Akureyri, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson aspired to a career in javelin-throwing or music. When a prolonged back injury put an end to his athletic ambitions, he narrowed his attention to songwriting.

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