Firefighters and Ambulance Drivers on Strike in Iceland Skip to content

Firefighters and Ambulance Drivers on Strike in Iceland

The first in a series of strikes among firefighters and ambulance drivers in Iceland began today at 8 am and will last until 4 pm. Only absolute emergencies will be tended to. They have also handed in their beepers, which means that they won’t be on call.

The photo is not directly related to the story. By Páll Stefánsson.

Firefighters and ambulance drivers have not had an established wage agreement for more than a year and talks with the wage committee of the Association of Local Authorities have been unfruitful.

The committee believes that firefighters and ambulance drivers not carrying beepers and thus being unreachable while they should be on call is against the law, and Fréttabladid report.

Sverrir B. Björnsson, chairman of the National Association of Firefighters and Ambulance Drivers, said today’s strike will be the first in a series of four.

If wage agreements are not reached until September 7, a general strike will begin. Björnsson said he hopes agreements will be reached before that time.

No firefighters will be on duty at the airport in Akureyri during the strike and therefore Air Iceland moved up two flights from Reykjavík. The airplanes left the capital before 7 am this morning and returned to Reykjavík before the strike began at 8 am.

There won’t be any more flights between Akureyri and Reykjavík until the afternoon but other flight routes will not be disturbed by the strike.

Niels Chr. Nielsen, assistant to the director of medicine at Landspítali hospital, said they have prepared for the strike and been in contact with its organizers. “I expect them to show understanding and not let sick patients suffer because of the strike.”

Nielsen said the situation could become troublesome if patients cannot be transported between locations in ambulances. He hopes the strike won’t cause too many problems as it won’t last for long this time around.

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