Government’s Final Contribution to Wage Dispute Skip to content

Government’s Final Contribution to Wage Dispute

Wage contracts have been heatedly debated in Iceland recently with the government submitting their final declaration to the representatives of the employment market last night.


Icelandic trawlers. Photo by Bjarni Brynjólfsson.

Controversial changes to the fishing quota system have been brought into the dispute and the threat of strikes is looming.

According to Fréttabladid, the amended bill on changes to the fishing quota system will be discussed in the cabinet today or early next week and parties of interest within the fishing industry will not get to see it before it has been handled by the government and coalition parties.

Significant effort has been put into finishing the bill in the past few days. Some officials and a few ministers have attended tens of meetings and single articles of the bill weren’t finalized until yesterday.

Managing director of the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA) Vilhjálmur Einarsson told that he does not approve of changes to the quota system, saying they are at odds with the emphasis on making Icelandic fisheries a competitive industry on the international market.

The declaration includes a suggestion that representatives of SA participate in drafting a new fisheries control system bill in the coming weeks and Egilsson said such participation is thinkable.

The executive board of SA will evaluate the situation today and decide whether three-year wage contracts can be made on the basis of the government’s declaration or whether short-term contacts must suffice for now, Morgunbladid reports.

SA representatives met Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir and Finance Minister Steingrímur J. Sigfússon yesterday to discuss the main issues of disagreement, which led to the government leaders submitting their final declaration to Magnús Pétursson, the state negotiator.

The state negotiation handed the declaration to the representatives of the employment market late last night and expects to hear from them today.

Gylfi Arnbjörnsson, president of the Confederation of Labor (ASÍ) said last night that the situation is unchanged. It isn’t certain that talks on short-term wage contracts can be picked up from where they ended before Easter.

The draft of a wage contract which was supposed to be valid until early next year assumed a salary increase of ISK 100,000 (USD 899, EUR 605) in the period. Some associations of wage earners have started to prepare for strikes.

“Around 40 percent of wage earners on the general market work in stores and the tourist industry. Some companies in those genres wouldn’t survive an overall strike,” commented Andrés Magnússon, managing director of the Federation of Trade and Services.

Click here to read about a record number of companies in Iceland going bankrupt, here to read more about wage contract disputes and here to read about the controversial fishing quota system.

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