Labor unions in Iceland declared the signing of wage contracts yesterday historic, because never before have the salaries of those who earn the least increased the most. Monthly wages rose by up to ISK 21,000 (USD 313, EUR 213) yesterday and are scheduled to rise further before the end of 2010.
“Such agreements haven’t been reached for decades. This is unique,” president of the Icelandic Confederation of Labor (ASÍ) Grétar Thorsteinsson told Morgunbladid. “Not all of our demands have been met of course, but we have been rather successful.”
The government announced yesterday that it will spend ISK 20 billion (USD 289 million, EUR 203 million) to fulfill the terms of the wage contracts and to increase personal tax credits, dependency benefits and to lower corporate taxes, Fréttabladid reports.
The government will also review its regulations on interest relief, housing benefits and stamp duty and plans to establish a housing savings system with tax deductions for those who are 35 and younger.
In addition to those plans, the government promises to develop occupational education so that no more than ten percent of workers will lack the proper education for their line of work in 2020.
According to Morgunbladid, vacation days will also increase to 30 per year, benefits for pensioners and the disabled will rise and if workers are given notice they have the right to ask for an interview with their employer to discuss the reasons behind his or her decision and request a formal explanation in writing.
Wage earners can also request that part of their salaries be paid in a foreign currency.
Click here to read more about recent wage contracts in Iceland.