Reykjavík’s Sunniest Start of the Year in 77 Years

Beautiful scenery in the harbour area of Reykjavík

You would have to go back to 1947 to find a sunnier start of the year in Reykjavík than 2024 has been so far. At the same time, other parts of Iceland have not been as lucky.

Over 500 hours of sunlight

According to a report issued by the Icelandic Met Office, Iceland’s capital has been blessed with some 512.1 sunlight hours. As Vísir points out, only 1947 had a sunnier start of the year.

That said, sunlight is not necessarily equivalent to warmth, of course. The temperature in Reykjavík in April was, on average, 3.1°C. This is about half a degree under the average for 1991 to 2020, and 1.3 degrees lower than the average for the past ten years. The first four months were, however, also not as rainy as the average for 1991 to 2020, with precipitation only reaching 70% of the average for that time period.

Snowy in the north and east

In other parts of the country, the situation was decidedly different. Heavy snowfall has been the hallmark of the northeast this spring.

Akureyri, located in north-central Iceland, experienced 17 snowy days in April alone. This is three times more than usual, and also meant that there was not a single day in town that month when the ground did not have at least some snow on it.

Not to worry, though; meteorologists predict a very sunny summer for Iceland.

Intercultural Conference Addresses Ways to Fight Xenophobia

Hitt Húsið

The City of Reykjavík hosted this year’s Intercultural Conference at the youth centre Hitt Húsið, which was by all accounts well attended and well received. Speakers and attendees alike related their experiences with xenophobia and racism, as well as ways to combat it.

Translations and accents

Amongst the events at the conference was one led by First Lady Eliza Reid, entitled “Can good literary translations involve inclusion?”, which explored the idea of translated literature establishing better connections between cultures.

Yet another event explored the oft-overlooked subject of Icelandic spoken with an accent. Many people of foreign origin in Iceland who speak Icelandic will do so with an accent, and this event sought to examine how this affects one’s self-image, how those with Icelandic as a mother tongue respond to Icelandic with an accent, and related subjects.

Young people and racism

One of the other more compelling events was an open discussion group for young people aged 13 through 18. This event was coordinated in cooperation between Nordic Pioneers, the anti-racist group Antirasistarnir and Isabel Díaz, Iceland’s UN Youth Delegate on Education, Science and Culture.

Some of these attendees who spoke to RÚV recounted being subjected to bullying and slurs, in school and in the workplace, as well as more subtle kinds of racism. As one example, Kristín Taiwo Reynisdóttir was adopted and brought to Iceland when she was just a couple weeks old. Despite this, she says, she is repeatedly asked where she is from because she is Black. Other people of colour who attended expressed frustration with always being addressed in English first, no matter how long they have lived in Iceland, based on the presumptions others make because of their skin colour.

Women of foreign origin and education

Towards the end of the conference, W.O.M.E.N., an organisation of women of foreign origin in Iceland, led a panel discussion about how, despite their numbers, women of foreign origin are seldom in policy-making positions and are underrepresented in other spheres of society as well.

On a brighter note, the open discussion of young people raised several ideas for how xenophobia and racism can be combated. One of the more prevalent ideas to arise was education–for students, parents and teachers alike. Antirasistarnir offers such education for interested schools, as well as making themselves available to students struggling with xenophobia.

As about one quarter of Reykajvík’s residents are of foreign origin, the conference was by all accounts well received.

State Arbiter Seeks to Settle Airport Labour Dispute

Keflavík Airport

The State Conciliation and Mediation Officer has called for a meeting at noon today, RÚV reports, in the hopes of working out a deal between the union of public servants Sameyki, the union of aviation workers, and management.

Negotiating since 2023

As reported, these workers have been trying to negotiate a new contract since 2023, to no avail.

Things came to a head last month, as the unions involved felt no headway was being made in their negotiations with SA (the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise), who were operating on behalf of Isavia, the company which conducts operations for Keflavík International Airport. This led to the overwhelming majority of union members–80%–voting in favour of a series of work stoppages.

Government intervention

The purpose of the State Conciliation and Mediation Officer, who represents the government, is to intervene and serve as a third party between labour and management in the hopes of drawing up a labour deal that both sides can live with, even if just temporarily.

Strikes and work stoppages at airports are a particularly sensitive matter, given how much revenue is generated through tourism. The intended work stoppages would occur from 4:00AM to 8:00AM on the 10th, 16th, 17th and 20th of May, and would bring departures to a halt. That being the case, time is of the essence as these three parties meet to work out a deal.