The Court of Appeal (Landsréttur) has ruled that the Efling union does not need to hand over its membership registry to the state mediator, RÚV reports. Following the ruling, the state mediator requested permission from the Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market to step aside. The Director General of the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) has stated that he regrets the mediator’s decision.
Court of Appeal overturns ruling
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal overturned the Reykjavík District Court’s ruling in the labour dispute between the Efling union and SA: the Efling union is not legally obliged to hand over its membership registry prior to voting on the mediator’s mediation proposal, RÚV reports.
The court ruled that the state mediator is allowed to take the initiative to hold a vote; however, nowhere does the law state that a party in a labour dispute is obliged to hand over its membership registry to the state mediator prior to voting takes place.
The mediator’s authority to demand membership registries was enshrined in a law on mediation in labour disputes – which was abolished in 1978. The verdict of the Appeal Court quoted a speech by the then Chairperson of the Social Affairs Committee who advocated the change. In the speech, the Chairperson stated that the purpose of the repeal was to reduce the power or position of the mediator.
RÚV notes that Efling and the state mediator struck an agreement last week to accept the court’s decision and abstain from appealing the decision of the Court of the Appeal to the Supreme Court.
In a statement from Efling sent to the media yesterday, the union demanded that state mediator Aðalsteinn Leifsson resign from the dispute immediately. “This is the worst imaginable verdict on the working methods of the state mediator,” Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, the Chair of the Efling union, was quoted as saying.
Guðmundur accepts Aðalstein’s request
After the ruling by the Court of Appeal yesterday, Aðalsteinn Leifsson told the media that he would be requesting permission from the Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market, Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, to step down from his role as mediator between Efling and SA.
“My opinion is that, under the circumstances,” Aðalsteinn Leifsson told Vísir yesterday, “the character should always give way to the issue, which is why I suggested to the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Market that appointing a special mediator in this dispute, or a mediating committee, might prove wise. I would then step aside in this particular dispute and pass the baton over to others, in hopes that they find a solution. The minister is currently mulling my suggestion over.”
Yesterday evening, Vísir reported that Guðmundur Ingi had accepted Aðalsteinn’s request and that an assistant mediator would be appointed to resolve the dispute.
Expects further developments over the coming days
In an interview with RÚV yesterday evening, Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson, Director General of SA, said that he regretted the state mediator’s decision to withdraw from the wage dispute – but that he supported his decision. Halldór Benjamín added that yesterday’s ruling did not change the fact that the mediating proposal was valid and legitimate in all respects.
“There are indeed a lot of twists and turns in this dispute,” Halldór Benjamín told RÚV, “and I think that there will be even more twists and turns in the coming days.”