The number of Icelanders working at Kárahnjúkar, the controversial hydro-electric development in eastern Iceland, is decreasing reports news station NFS. According to Oddur Fridriksson, the senior union representative in the Kárahnjúkar area, one of the main reasons for the reduction in numbers is the arrangement of shifts by the largest contractor.
NFS reports that about 10 companies have employees at Kárahnjúkar. Oddur says that at the end of January there were a 1,485 employees working at Kárahnjúkar, including 298 Icelanders. This makes Icelanders about 20% of the total work force at Kárahnjúkar.
Last year, there were about 400 Icelanders working at Kárahnjúkar while the total work fore was a bout the same as now. 76% of all employees work at Impregilo, and 5% of those are Icelanders.
According to Oddur, the Icelanders do not like the shift arrangements currently in effect at Impregilo. The shifts include 24 days of work with one week off. Oddur says that this means that those employees with families do not see their families for three weeks which many people find very impractical. He says that the Icelandic contractors at Kárahnjúkar have 10 – 12 day shifts with 4 – 6 days break between each shift.
Citing recent figures from Statistics Iceland, Jón Kaldal, editor of Fréttabladid, observed in an editorial on Tuesday that in spite of government sponsored projects in the eastern Iceland, there had been a net migration of Icelanders away from that part of the country. “The new inhabitants of East-Iceland are not there to settle, they are mostly migrant laborers who will later depart for other countries when their jobs are done here.”