The majority of members of trade union VR, to which air workers belong, voted today in favor of striking. The strike may interrupt flight schedules; unless an agreement in the wage dispute can be reached in time, air workers are set to strike on May 31 and June 1, and then indefinitely from June 6 onward.
As the 28 member unions of the Icelandic Association of Academics (BHM), and the 19 member unions of the Federation of General and Specialized Workers (SGS) continue their ongoing strike, the onset of further strikes organized by trade unions VR, Efling, Hlíf, VSFK and the Commercial Federation of Iceland (LÍV) draws closer.
Tomorrow marks the deadline for voting on the issue within each respective organization, but VR, to which air workers belong, has released the results of their polls and affirmed their participation.
Unless an agreement can be reached, air workers are therefore set to strike on May 31 and June 1. While airlines are expected to variously advance and delay flights around the initial strike in order to get passengers to their intended destinations, an all-out strike planned to begin on June 6 and continue indefinitely, would likely have more severe consequences for both domestic and foreign travelers as well as the tourist industry, mbl.is reports.
“We have not noticed a reduction in bookings around that time period,” said Svanhvít Friðriksdóttir, communications director at WOW Air, to Fréttablaðið, when asked about the situation. “WOW Air will assist all passengers to the best of our abilities if it comes to a strike. Many of the passengers who have contacted our service center have inquired about their rights and we have referred them to the website of the Icelandic Transport Authority that well explains the rights of passengers.”
According to the ITA website, in the case that a flight is delayed or canceled due to a strike, “passengers shall have a right to reimbursement or to have their flight re-routed,” and shall be offered any meals, hotel accommodations or additional transportation, should they become necessary, free of charge.
Guðjón Arngrímsson, communications director at Icelandair, similarly reported no changes in reservations that can be attributed to the upcoming strike. “We have however received several inquiries from passengers. We have not made any changes to our schedules and, like everyone, are hoping that a consensus will be reached before this time and interruptions in flights will be avoided,” said Guðjón. “Our primary goal is to get our passengers to their destinations as soon as possible.”
Helga Árnadóttir, director of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association offered a less optimistic assessment of the situation, citing reports of several tour group cancelations as well as general unrest among foreign travel agencies.
“As the uncertainty intensifies, the worse the situation gets, and as of right now, everything is in limbo. At this point every day counts,” said Helga.
A meeting held yesterday at the office of the State Negotiator between representatives of BHM and the government proved inconclusive—yet another in a series of failed negotiations. No further meetings have been scheduled, Vísir reports.