400 Small Businesses Form New Association

downtown Reykjavík

Around 400 small and medium-sized businesses have registered in a new association that was formed yesterday, RÚV reports. The association, called Atvinnufjelag, will take part in contract negotiations separately from the Confederation of Iceland Enterprise (SA) in order to give a voice to smaller businessses.

“Over 99% of associations in Iceland are small and medium-size businesses and independent workers,” stated Arna Þorsteinsdóttir, one of the founders of the new association and co-owner of ad agency Sahara. The new association’s preparatory board says smaller businesses need a bigger seat at the table. “What’s not working with SA is the voting system. The bigger a business is, the more votes you have, the more weight you have. So it’s more likely that bigger businesses call the shots.”

The premise of the new association is that each company will have one vote, regardless of its size, setting up a majority rule. Arna says smaller companies have felt they do not have enough of a voice within SA. “Especially during COVID, certain response measures were requested for small and medium-size businesses that did not get support.”

The association’s founding statement asserts that Iceland’s taxation system is unequal and should take into account the size and scope of businesses’ operations. The association states it will negotiate contracts on behalf of its members and do so independently from SA. Arna hopes, however, “that there will be an open discussion and talks. We recognise that we are sort of gatecrashers here but we just want to get to the table.”

New Government Must Wait for Election Investigation Results

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir

It’s not possible to present the new government until the Credentials Committee completes their investigation of election proceedings in the Northwest Constituency, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated in a RÚV interview this morning. Formal coalition talks between the Left-Green Movement, Progressive Party, and Independence Party are on hold this week while two of the party chairmen attend conferences abroad. Katrín stated it was unusual for a sitting government to be re-elected in Iceland, and that creates certainty despite the ongoing investigation in the Northwest Constituency.

Uncertainty hangs over the results from Iceland’s Northwest Constituency following the September 25 parliamentary election. Over a dozen legal complaints have been filed due to election proceedings in the constituency, where ballots were left unsealed and unsupervised between the initial count and recount that occurred the following day. After conducting an investigation, West Iceland Police stated there were no indications that votes were tampered with, but added they could not confirm that was the case.

Katrín stated that the new government would not be presented until the Credentials Committee had completed their investigation of the case, but that despite the uncertainty in the Northwest Constituency, the overall election results were clear. There is a sitting government and the government clearly held their majority in the election. “So there is really no uncertainty about the government or the majority,” Katrín stated. The negotiations are being conducted on the basis that Katrín will continue as Prime Minister. It has yet to be announced how the other government ministries will be distributed.

Katrín is currently in Glasgow, Scotland attending the COP26 Climate Change Conference. Transport Minister and Progressive Party Chairman Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson is also abroad for a Nordic Council session that begins in Copenhagen, Denmark today.

Resignations Will Not Fix Culture of Bullying, Former Efling Board Member Says

More than resignations are necessary to stop the bullying and violence faced by employees of Efling Union, Anna Marjankowska, a former Efling board member, told Iceland Review. Efling’s chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir and CEO Viðar Þorsteinsson have both resigned after Efling employee representatives released a statement of no-confidence in Sólveig Anna. She has denied accusations of intimidation and bullying.

Read More: Efling Union Leaders Resign After No-Confidence Letter from Employees

Efling is Iceland’s second-largest labour union, representing around 27,000 members who work in public service, healthcare, and other industries. Marjankowska joined the board of Efling in April 2018, not long after Sólveig Anna took over as chair, and says she was forced to quit due to bullying in September 2019. “I had to stop my activity in Efling after the violence I faced representing office staff members who received unfair treatment,” she stated. “Efling and ASÍ should be an example for other workplaces and if they do not address bullying and lack of transparency then they’re giving a green light to use them as tools of ‘management’.”

Marjankowska stated that Sólveig Anna and Viðar’s resignations did not surprise her. “They are the most responsible for the culture of bullying in the office, when I refused to stay silent about illegal dismissals in the office, they bullied me directly though others pressured me to resign from the board.” More than resignations are needed to change working conditions within Efling, Marjankowska says. “What the union needs is to serve the workers, make new policies and follow them. People need to take responsibility and change their behaviour. Quitting does not hold people accountable.”

Marjankowska also expressed concern about who would lead Efling in the upcoming contract negotiations. “How will they be managed? Who will represent the rights of foreign workers?” She added that several employees of foreign origin were the targets of bullying within Efling, including Christina Milcher and Maxim Baru, external organisers of a 2019 strike, but they were silenced.

Efling Union Leaders Resign After No-Confidence Letter From Employees

Anna Sólveig Jónsdóttir Efling Union

Efling Union Chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir has resigned after the union’s staff sent letters of no-confidence to her, the union, and Icelandic media on Friday, Vísir reports. The Union’s CEO Viðar Þorsteinsson has told Kjarninn he will follow in her footsteps and hand in his resignation letter today. Sólveig Anna has denied accusations of bullying within Efling’s office.

Efling is Iceland’s second-largest labour union, with around 27,000 members working in public service, healthcare, and other industries. Sólveig Anna became Efling’s chair in 2018 and led wage negotiations and strikes among City of Reykjavík employees and hotel workers calling for better wages and working conditions for low earners.

In a Facebook post announcing her resignation, Sólveig Anna writes that Efling staff representatives signed passed a resolution on June 9 that accused her of serious offences, including keeping a so-called “execution list.” Sólveig Anna denied the accusations in her post and says she referred the matter to other Efling executives, who followed up on the issue. According to Sólveig Anna, she then received a written statement that the case was closed.

The case was picked up by media when another board member requested access to the contents of the letter but was denied by Efling’s board. After media contacted Sólveig Anna last Thursday requesting comment on the matter, she issued an ultimatum to the Efling board: either a written statement would be issued that withdrew the accusations on her account or she would resign. Following a meeting, employees “unequivocally confirmed” the contents of the original letter and sent Sólveig Anna and Efling’s management a statement of no-confidence as well as sending out a statement to media. The statements assert that serious problems persist within the Efling office that need to be addressed.