Wage Negotiations Advance, Media Ban Imposed

State Mediator Ástráður Haraldsson

Union and business representatives have restarted wage negotiations after a break of almost a week, Vísir reports. The parties have agreed on a basis for the negotiations, according to State Mediator Ástráður Haraldsson. One union leader said IKEA’s price reductions are a good contribution to the negotiations.

Media ban imposed

The negotiations impact the working conditions of some 93% of workers on the general labour market in Iceland. After signs of progress in the negotiations appeared, Ástráður banned all parties from speaking with the media, a move often instituted when an agreement seems nigh.

Price reductions and freezes a positive contribution

Vilhjálmur Birgisson, Chairman of the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland, did, however, speak to a Vísir reporter on the price reductions announced by IKEA in Iceland, calling them a positive contribution to the negotiations. The reductions could help in bringing down inflation and interest rates, “which are making Icelandic households miserable,” he stated.

Vilhjálmur pointed out that BYKO has also decided to freeze prices for six months, and encouraged other businesses to follow the two companies’ example.

Reykjanes Could Erupt Again Next Week

Grindavík volcanic eruption January 2024

The next eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula could occur as soon as next week, RÚV reports. Land uplift at Svartsengi is occurring at a faster rate than prior to the January 2024 eruption in the area. Kristín Jónsdóttir, head of the natural hazards department at the Icelandic Met Office, says an eruption or other volcanic event could occur with little notice.

Magma chamber below Svartsengi

Land by the Svartsengi Power Plant and the Blue Lagoon has risen by up to 8 millimetres per day in recent days, slightly faster than before the January 14 eruption outside of the town of Grindavík. This indicates that the magma chamber beneath Svartsengi is likely expanding and could eventually causing an eruption or form a magma tunnel like the one that formed below the town of Grindavík at the end of last year.

Kristín believes such an event is not far off. “Assuming that this continues at a similar pace as has happened before, it can be expected that there will be another magma outburst in February, around mid-February, or even next week,” Kristín stated.

Eruption could occur with little notice

“The magma could start flowing without there being much seismic activity or us getting a lot of warning long before,” Kristín stated. She pointed out that seismic activity only increased one hour before the December eruption at Sundhnúkagígar.

Read more about the recent eruptions on the Reykjanes peninsula.

Yellow Weather Warning Across South Iceland

yellow weather warning Feb 1 2024

Heavy rain and extreme thawing are expected across the Reykjavík capital area, as well as the western, southern, and southwest regions of Iceland tonight. The Icelandic Met Office has issued yellow weather alerts for the regions between 8:00 PM this evening and 6:00 AM tomorrow morning.

Rain and rapidly rising temperatures are expected to cause higher water levels in rivers and streams as well as an increased risk of flooding. Locals are advised to clear grates to prevent flood damage from rain and meltwater. Conditions are also expected to be slippery, due to rainfall on ice and compressed snow. Travellers are encouraged to exercise caution and monitor weather forecasts and road conditions regularly.