The board of SA, the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, has agreed to present a vote to its member companies to initiate a lockout against the members of the Efling trade union.
According to SA chairperson Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson, SA members will be presented with a vote today. Stating that negotiations with Efling have gone as far as they can, the potential lockout would represent an escalation of the so-far unproductive negotiations between the two labour organisations. If the lockout goes through, it would potentially affect the entire Efling membership, some 20,000 workers. Efling is one of the largest trade unions in Iceland and a lockout against the union would have significant effects on the entire economy.
Halldór was careful to note in a statement that the tactic has been used sparingly by SA throughout the decades, but that the uncooperative tactics in use by Efling have forced his hand. He has been quoted as referring to the vote as an “emergency measure.”
“In short, SA can initiate a lockout, just like Efling can threaten a strike,” Halldór clarified. “When the vote is over, and let’s assume it’s approved, we will hand over a document to the leadership of Efling notifying them of the lockout. The state mediator will also receive a copy. Just like in the case of strikes, it has seven days to be implemented. We believe that we have reached such a critical moment in this dispute that we can no longer allow Efling to paralyze society as a whole with a hand-picked group of employees.”
Halldór likewise stated that the vote would concern all members of Efling, but that a potential lockout will be implemented with specific regard to the conditions SA members find most suitable.
The vote comes after threats by Efling chairperson to resume strikes, which had been postponed, on Sunday.
Locked-out workers would not be allowed to show up to their usual employment. As such, they would not receive wages, accrue leave, or receive pension payments.