Child Support Collection Centre Fined for Gendered Pay Discrimination

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

The Child Support Collection Centre, a public agency responsible for collecting child support payments from parents, has been under scrutiny for its management practices for years, RÚV reports.

Last week, the municipality collection agency in Iceland was ordered to pay a woman ISK 19 million [$140,000, €127,000] in compensation for significant gender-based wage discrimination. This was confirmed by Aldís Hilmarsdóttir, the agency’s chairperson. Over a 40-month period, the agency paid the woman almost ISK 500,000 less in monthly wages than a male colleague in a comparable position, without any legitimate reason. Of the total compensation, ISK 18 million was for wage discrimination and ISK 1 million for damages.

Recently, the agency has undergone a significant overhaul, with staff being fired, former executives being investigated by the prosecutor’s office, searches and arrests being made, and the Icelandic National Audit Office recommending significant changes to its operations. The agency has approximately 20 employees working in Reykjavik and Ísafjörður.

Since its establishment over a century ago, the Child Support Collection Centre’s main purpose has been to collect child support payments from parents, primarily fathers. The Icelandic National Audit Office and others have recommended that this function be transferred to the state, stating that it is unnecessary to maintain an entire agency with a large number of employees solely to collect child support. In addition to this issue, the management practices of the centre have also been questioned.

An audit of the agency’s operations was requested by the government as part of a restructuring of child support collection. The investigation uncovered several irregularities, including financial mismanagement, lack of proper accounting, and inadequate record-keeping. The audit also revealed that the centre’s revenues come primarily from late payment fees, with almost 80% of its income being derived from such fees. The agency suffered losses of ISK 100 million [$740,000, €670,000] in 2021 and ISK 120 million in 2020, despite its revenues being around ISK 270 million in 2021.

It remains to be seen how the government will respond to these recommendations and whether the agency’s operations will be transferred to the state.

 

What are the top university programmes in Iceland?

Iceland is home to several major universities, but the two largest are the University of Iceland, a publicly funded research university, and Reykjavík University, a private university that specializes in business, law, engineering, and several other fields.

It may not come as a surprise that some of the top university programmes are in fields that you may already associate with Iceland.

Geosciences stands out as a good example, as Iceland’s unique geological features make it one of the few places in the world where glaciologists and vulcanologists can work side by side with their peers. The University of Iceland is also home to several research institutions in this field, such as the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre and the Nordic Volcanological Centre. Similarly, Iceland is also home to several programmes that specialize in renewable energy, giving prospective engineers and environmentalists the opportunity to work hands-on with hydroelectric and geothermal energy providers.

Because of the wealth of historical sources and the small populations, Icelanders are also known for their interest in their own genealogies. It’s no surprise then that Iceland is also known for well-regarded programmes in molecular biology and genetics. The biopharmaceutical company deCODE, founded in 1996, made great strides in the study of population-wide genetics, and deCODE’s influential work has also fostered the development of various programmes in Iceland, including biotechnology, bioinformatics, and bioengineering.

For those with a more humanitarian bent, the University of Iceland also offers programmes in medieval history and literature. The presence of the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies and countless medieval manuscripts means that Iceland is one of the best places in the world for scholars who want to study the Old Norse language and its literary corpus.

Prospective students in Iceland may be interested in these schools:

 

 

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Icelandic Man Arrested in Brazil in Large Drug Bust

Metropolitan Police

Vísir reports that a man has been arrested in Brazil by the Brazilian authorities in a joint operation with the Icelandic police. The man in question is believed to be Sverrir Þór Gunnarsson, also known as Sveddi Tönn, who has a long history of drug-related offences in Iceland, Spain, and Brazil.

The operation was carried out due to concerns about the flow of drugs from Brazil to Europe and Iceland, which is believed to be linked to a group associated with Sverrir. The Icelandic police have been cooperating with the Brazilian authorities for some time in connection with this case.

Sverrir Þór Gunnarsson was born in 1972 and has a criminal record that started when he was sixteen. He was first convicted of minor drug and traffic offences and was given the nickname Sveddi Tönn because of his appearance, supposedly resembling a tooth. In 2000, Sverrir was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for his involvement in a large-scale drug trafficking case known as “The Big Drug Case.” Thirteen people were convicted, and Sverrir received the second heaviest sentence.

In November 2012, Sverrir was sentenced to 22 years in prison in Brazil for organizing the smuggling of around fifty thousand ecstasy tablets. He was released from prison in Brazil but was put under house arrest. Later, he fled Brazil and was on the run until his recent arrest.

The Brazilian police have announced that the operation was part of a large-scale crackdown on organized crime groups involved in money laundering and drug trafficking. Around 250 police officers were involved in the operation, which targeted 49 locations, resulting in 33 arrests.

The police are reported to have seized 65 kg of cocaine and 225 kg of cannabis in the operation.

Power Outage in Downtown Reykjavík

power outage downtown reykjavík

Parts of downtown Reykjavík were without power this morning due to a high-voltage failure.

According to utility company Veitur, work began on the power outage around 9:10 this morning. The outage is reported to have occurred around 8:00.

Some downtown businesses were affected, needing to open later because of the outages.

Veitur states that as of 10:05, power has been restored in all areas of downtown Reykjavík.