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Web-Media Journalists on Strike Until 18:00 Today

At 10:00 AM this morning, reporters, photographers, and videographers for online media went on an eight-hour strike. The strike is organised by the Union of Icelandic Journalists (BÍ) and will extend to four media outlets: Fréttablaðið, Morgunblaðið, RÚV, and Vísir.

During the first strike, which occurred last Friday, November 8, several journalists at Morgunblaðið (among them contractors and managers) – who do not normally write news on www.mbl.is – filled in for their colleagues, in an act that was condemned by Morgunblaðið’s web-media journalists. RÚV was also accused of violating the strike. The Union of Icelandic Journalists has since sued the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise over these violations.

As the majority of web-media journalists employed by Vísir and Fréttablaðið are members of the Union of Icelandic Journalists, it is likely that no news will be published on the two companies’ websites today. Given that a large portion of journalists on RÚV are members of The Society of Broadcast Journalists (a different union), the strike will likely have a smaller impact on RÚV’s website (the Society of Broadcast Journalists did, however, declare their support for their colleagues’ strike).

Further Strikes in the Offing

Members of the Union of Icelandic Journalists voted to strike in early November (for the first time in 40 years), after ten months of negotiation failed to produce an agreement between the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise and the union. Of 211 members, 131 voted, with over 83% in support of the strike.

If no agreement is reached over the next few days, the aforementioned group of web-media journalists will go on a twelve-hour strike next Friday, November 22. If no agreement is reached after that date, journalists at Fréttablaðið and Morgunblaðið will also go on strike on November 28.

Representatives from the Union of Icelandic Journalists met with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise yesterday. After the meeting, Hjálmar Jónsson, Chairman of the Union of Icelandic Journalists, stated that the two parties were far from reaching an agreement. Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson, Chairman of SA, stated that the demands of journalists extend beyond the Standard of Living Agreement (a collective bargaining agreement signed in April of this year by various Icelandic unions that emphasises “improved wages for lower-paid workers”). According to Halldór, an offer similar to other offers made to members of SA had been extended toward the Union of Iceland Journalists, which the Union declined.

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