Drífa Snædal, President of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour, Steps Down

drífa snædal labour union iceland

Drífa Snædal, president of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour, has announced today that she is stepping down from her post.

Citing the formation of certain blocs within the confederation and difficult relations with elected representatives, Drífa stated that it was impossible for her to continue working as president. Upcoming salary negotiations and the annual conference in October were identified as reasons to step down sooner, rather than later.

The announcement can be found below in a Facebook post from the Icelandic Confederation of Labour.

In her statement, Drífa said that as president, she found herself in situations she had never expected. Specifically, she pointed out how Efling’s mass layoffs earlier this year forced her to publicly criticize Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir for her decision. According to Drífa, the Icelandic Confederation of Labour had been working against such mass layoffs for some time, and that Sólveig’s actions put her in a very difficult position. Given the internal divisions, she said, it was impossible to move forward.

Kristján Þórður Snæbjarnarson, chairperson of the Icelandic Electrical Industry Association and vice-president of the Icelandic Labour Confederation, is slated to take over Drífa’s now-vacant position until the coming conference in October.

In a statement to Morgunblaðið, Kristján said that the situation was still very fresh, and that he had not decided whether he would run for the presidency at the conference in October. Having just received the news this morning, he said that although Drífa would be missed, it was naturally his task to step in and fill her role until more permanent decisions could be made.

The Icelandic Confederation of Labour consists of 46 trade unions and represents service workers, seamen, construction workers, office and retail workers, and several other industries in Iceland. It is the largest union confederation in Iceland, representing 2/3 of Icelandic organized labour, or around 133,000 workers. Approximately 80% of Icelandic labour is organized in trade unions, the largest of which are VR, with c. 40,000 members, and Efling, with c. 30,000 members.

Concluding her announcement, Drífa called the labour movement the “most remarkable human rights movements in the world.” She continued: “However, I can no longer perform my duties as president of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour. It’s best to end things here. And to remove any doubt, this is not part of some larger scheme, I am simply leaving this platform with no intention of returning. I thank my supporters from the bottom of my heart and ask for their understanding in this decision.”

Low-Strength Melatonin Will No Longer Require Prescription

melatonin iceland

Following a recent statement by the Icelandic Medicines Agency, Lyfjastofnun, melatonin under a concentration of 1 mg/ day will no longer require a prescription.

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body which is released to regulate our sleeping cycles. It is often taken as a dietary supplement and as a medication to treat sleep disorders.

Up until now, melatonin has been classified as a medicine under Icelandic law, regardless of strength. In many other countries, however, melatonin is sold as a dietary supplement and is available without prescription. According to the Icelandic Medicines Agency, these differences in regulation between countries have caused confusion among both Icelanders and tourists, who have purchased melatonin abroad legally, but were not allowed to bring it into the country. In recent years, some of the Nordic countries have decided to allow over-the-counter sale of melatonin in low doses. In other countries, such as the United States, melatonin is sold in higher doses with no prescription needed.

Earlier this year, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, MAST, requested a reconsideration of melatonin’s classification status. Low-dose melatonin will now be available without prescription, as long as the marketing and packaging makes no claim to treat disease or act as a preventative measure.


Meradalir Update: Eruption Site Reopened to Public

meradalir eruption 2022

The Meradalir eruption site was reopened today to the public following several days of weather-related closures. The announcement came this morning, following a status update meeting with Suðurnes chief of police Gunnar Schram. The announcement can be seen in a Facebook post below from The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.

Prior to the announcement, tourists had been turned away from the eruption site. Police had set up checkpoints along the road from Grindavík to determine drivers’ destinations. In a statement to Fréttablaðið, Gunnar stated the need for Icelandic authorities to establish clearer lines of communication with visitors, most of whom are foreign tourists.

Meradalir eruption 2022
Veðurstofa Íslands

Although weather has been uncooperative for visitors, the eruption is seen by geologists as conforming well to their models, with few surprises. The above satellite image provided by the Meteorological Office shows imaging of earthquakes in the Reykjanes peninsula leading up to the eruption.

The deformation northeast of Grindavík, indicated by the black box, is considered to be the source of the M5.5 earthquake that occurred on July 31. Using earthquake and GPS data, geologists have determined that the region’s magma distribution is unchanged, with a steady flow since the beginning of the eruption. The Department of Civil Protection and the Meteorological Office both warn that authorities should prepare for a potentially long-term eruption.

Those planning on visiting the eruption site may want to read our guide to visiting Meradalir.