Following the passage of a bill in parliament on Saturday, which ended the ongoing strikes of both BHM member unions and the Icelandic Federation of Nurses (FÍH), the former has announced its intention of bringing the government to court.
“By putting forth this bill the government is legislating a wage dispute it itself is party to,” and thus violating the constitutionally protected rights of labor unions, concluded a statement released jointly by BHM and FÍH, Friday.
Þórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir, chair of BHM, and Ólafur S. Skúlason, chair of FÍH, read the statement aloud to a crowd gathered at Austurvöllur to protest the proposal, before personally delivering it to Einar K. Guðfinnsson, the President of Alþingi, and appealing to MPs to vote against the bill.
The bill was nonetheless voted into law with 30 votes against 19 on Saturday evening. 14 MPs were absent
Subsequently BHM has announced it’s plans to bring a suit against the government for violating both the constitutional rights of its members, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights through its imposition of the laws, Vísir reports.
The announcement was also highly critical of the government’s actions over the past few months.
“Rather then negotiate with BHM the government brought the union to court with the intent of overturning planned strikes. These demands were memorably rejected by the labor court. Over the course of 24 meetings with the state negotiator, government representatives did not move an inch away from the initial proposal of the confederation of Icelandic employers, Business Iceland (SA).”
Lára V. Júlíusdóttir, law professor at the University of Iceland, called BHM’s decision “perfectly logical,” in light of the fact that the government is in this case not only the legislative body issuing the laws, but also a party to the dispute.
“Something else about these laws that you put a question mark next to, is that there are several member unions of BHM included in this bill that have not gone on strike,” said Lára to Vísir yesterday. Thus the laws effectively prohibit unions currently not on strike from being on strike, which brings their legitimacy into question.