Efling and SA Negotiations Over: “No Choice But to Accept”

Samningar Verkföll Sátti

Fréttablaðið reports that Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir has accepted the most recent mediation proposal.

Voting closed today, March 8, for the latest off in the prolonged negotiation between Eflind trade union and SA, the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise.

Read more: Results on New Mediating Proposal Expected Soon

With voting closed, preliminary results indicate that a majority of Efling members voted in favour of the proposal. Among other benefits, the average monthly wage of Efling employees will increase by about ISK 42,000 ($295; €280), an increase of about 11%. The contract will be retroactively valid through November of last year, and valid until January 2024.

“The result is in line with what I and my colleagues in the negotiation committee had counted on. I have been in contact with a number of members and conveyed the message to them that both I and the negotiation committee had no other choice in the situation but to agree to this mediation proposal,” Sólveig Anna stated to Fréttablaðið. She continued: “Of course, I fully understand that Efling members want this to end. It’s clear it wasn’t possible to get a better deal.”

According to Fréttablaðið, some 22.8% of Efling members took part in the vote. Of those, 84% voted to accept the latest proposal.

 

 

Elon Musk Walks Back Comments About Halli After Twitter Exchange

halli haraldur þorleifsson twitter

Elon Musk has walked back some of his comments regarding Haraldur Þorleifsson, better known as Halli, after a contentious exchange yesterday, March 7.

Twitter layoffs

The exchange followed Halli’s termination at Twitter during the latest in the large-scale layoffs since Mr. Musk’s acquisition of the social media platform. After he was locked out of his work accounts, Halli was unable to get a clear statement from Twitter HR about the status of his employment. He opted instead to contact Mr. Musk directly over social media.

In the ensuing thread, Mr. Musk cast doubt on Halli’s disability, and accused Halli of not working.

A partial apology

Following his statements, however, Mr. Musk has walked back some of his statements.

In the wake of the exchange, Mr. Musk stated: “I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation. It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful. He is considering remaining at Twitter.”

Some commentators have also pointed out that identifying Halli’s disability publicly violates American labour laws.

While not all details of the Ueno sale were made public, Halli purposely chose to receive the sale price as wages in order to pay higher tax on it in Iceland. Likely due to this arrangement, Halli was reportedly on a “do not fire list” at the social media company. If Halli is indeed terminated, Twitter is likely still obligated to pay him out.

At the time of writing, it is unclear whether Halli will remain at Twitter.

Halli has called the entire exchange “surreal” on social media.

Vote on New Mediating Proposal Closing, Results Expected Soon

A vote on the temporarily-appointed state mediator’s new proposal will end at 10 AM today. The results of the vote are expected to be in shortly thereafter.

Results expected shortly after voting closes

On March 1, temporarily-appointed state mediator Ástráður Haraldsson called a press conference to announce that representatives from the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) and the Efling union had agreed to vote on his new mediating proposal. While voting took place, all ongoing and impending strikes and lockouts were to be postponed.

Voting began at noon, Friday, March 3, and it is set to conclude at 10 AM this morning.

As previously noted, the new wage agreement between Efling and SA, as provided by the proposal, would be fully retroactive from November 1, 2022, and salary increases would be tantamount to those stipulated in agreements signed by other unions. The contract would, however, differ in two respect from other similar contracts: a new job title for general hotel staff (i.e. almennt starfsfólk gistihúsa) would be created and drivers of the oil companies and Samskip would receive additional hazard pay.

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Chair of the Efling union, has stated that she would vote in favour of the proposal.

The website of the Office of the State Mediator notes that the wage rates in the main collective agreement will increase between ISK 35,000 ($246 / €233) and ISK 52,258 ($368 / €349) ISK per month, the average increase being about ISK 42,000 ($295 / €280). The relative increase in wage rates is between 9.5% and 13%, with the average increase being over 11%.

This article will be updated.

National Pact Required to Fight Ongoing Inflation

The Governor of the Central Bank has stated that a national pact may be needed in order to overcome persistent inflation, RÚV reports. Whether or not the country is able to leave indexed loans behind, depends, to some extent, on the nation itself. The Finance Minister agrees with these ideas.

Depends on the nation to some extent

As noted by RÚV, the Governor of the Central Bank, Ásgeir Jónsson, was quoted in an article in Markaðurinn, on June 17, 2020, as saying that “an increase in the issuance of non-indexed loans would be a major turning point and would mean that indexation would die out.” He believes that it depends, to some extent, on the nation itself whether or not indexed loans would become a thing of the past:

“I had envisioned that we could have a nominal interest loan system, which I believe has many advantages over indexed loans. Based on both lower macroeconomic and a more active monetary policy. But it’s quite obvious that if we don’t succeed in keeping inflation down, it’s difficult to adopt such a system,” Ásgeir told RÚV yesterday.

Ásgeir stated that it was possible to change the terms of non-indexed loans to accommodate borrowers when instalments rise. He believes that a new national pact may be needed to overcome persistent inflation. When asked what such a consensus would entail and who would participate, Ásgeir responded thusly:

“A National pact is, naturally, based on parties within the labour market, as was the case when the first national pact was struck around 1990, regarding realistic targets for purchasing power, and so on. Such a pact is also predicated on a certain level of trust between the parties – and government involvement.”

Minister of Finance agrees

The Minister of Finance, Bjarni Benediktsson, told RÚV yesterday that he agreed with the Governor of the Central Bank regarding this national pact against inflation, stating that such efforts had long been discussed within parliament.

After the economic crisis in 2008, economic stability was tackled by the government. A consultation forum was established with the aim of increasing prosperity, where it became clear that various reforms were necessary; the Central Bank had been afforded better management tools, public finances were cleaned up, and actions were taken to strengthen the framework for economic stability.

“There is no question that the stakes are high, regarding, for example, the next round of wage negotiations and our plan to improve the state finances over the coming years. It is of great importance, first of all, for households; second, for the economy as a whole, and this matters, also, in regard to the state treasury and the local authorities, too. It’s simply really important to keep inflation down; interest rates will follow suit and capital costs will decrease,” Bjarni Benediktsson told RÚV.

Bjarni added that inflation expectations were out of control and that the market had “lost faith that inflation could be contained.” The Central Bank’s primary role was to bring inflation down to 2.5%, however, Bjarni noted, it could not tackle the issue alone. The labour market played a big role, given, especially, that there was currently no wage agreement with government employees and that it would not be long before contracts on the public market would expire again. Bjarni also noted that the excessive salaries of CEOs would need to be addressed.

“I completely agree [that CEO salaries need to be curbed]. In terms of taxation, we have a special tax bracket for such income and there is no doubt that we do not want to see wage increases in the upper brackets given the circumstances. Such increases are absolutely the worst solution in a situation where we are trying to create harmony and convince everyone to pitch in.”

Cold Spell Likely to Persist Well Into the Weekend, Next Week

winter tires reykjavík

Following a weekend of relatively warm weather, temperatures in Iceland plummeted below 0°C on Monday. Meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson informed Vísir that a prolonged cold spell, caused by “pure arctic air,” would likely continue into next week.

“Voices of spring silenced”

After temperatures dropped below freezing on Monday, a Vísir reporter reached out to meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson, who predicted that freezing temperatures would persist until at least this weekend.

“This is a very typical March cold spell, which we’ve seen at this time of year in recent years. Neither worse nor milder than previous cold spells. The arctic has become quite cold, and this cold air often drifts southward,” Einar Sveinbjörnsson observed.

According to Einar, the freezing temperatures are expected to persist until next weekend, with the possibility of the cold spell continuing into next week.

“It started to get cold [on the day before] yesterday, with freezing temperatures being registered throughout the country. Unlike the prolonged cold spell from last December, this current cold snap was accompanied by wind,” Einar remarked. He pointed out that the fair weather last weekend had made many people think that spring was on its way:

But it’s like that book, which marked the beginning of the environmental movement [Silent Spring]: the voices of spring fall silent – because the voices of spring certainly fell silent quite suddenly. But it would have been unnatural if we had begun to see spring-like conditions at the beginning of March. If such a thing were to become a reality, one would begin to fear the effects of climate change,” Einar observed.

Einar concluded by saying that the cold air originated from ice sheets in the arctic: “The air is also dry, not much moisture, but, first and foremost, we’ll continue to see cold weather and wind chill.”