Majority of Hotel Staff, Drivers Vote in Favour of Strike Action Skip to content
Hotel workers strike Reykjavík
Photo: Hotel workers strike in Reykjavík March 8, 2019..

Majority of Hotel Staff, Drivers Vote in Favour of Strike Action

Hotel staff and drivers have accepted two sets of strike actions, as proposed by the Efling union, with over 80% of the vote, Vísir reports. The Chair of the Efling union has continued to criticise the state mediator’s mediating proposal, while refusing to hand over the union’s electoral roll.

Over 80% in favour of strike action

As noted in an announcement from the Efling union yesterday, hotel staff and drivers have accepted two new sets of strike actions with over 80% of the vote. The voting ended at 6 PM yesterday.

Hotel staff at the Edition Hotel and at the Berjaya hotel chain approved the measures with almost 82% of the vote. A total of 487 were on the electoral roll. Of those, 255 voted, or over 52%. 209 approved, 40 rejected, and 6 abstained.

Truck drivers with Samskip, Olíudreifing, and Skeljungur also agreed to go on strike, with about 84% of the vote. 57 voted, or 77%, of the 74 Efling members that were on the electoral roll. 48 voted in favour, 7 against, and 2 abstained.

A strike among Efling members began at Íslandshotels yesterday, with almost three hundred hotel employees going on strike at noon and gathering at Iðnó for a rally.

Sólveig Anna severely critical of the mediating proposal

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Chair of the Efling Union, reserved harsh words about the state mediator’s mediating proposal, referring to it as “an unprecedented act.” Sólveig stated that the proposal had completely altered the rules of the game within the Icelandic labour market – the power had been snatched away from the hands of the workers.

Asked why it was not advisable to eliminate all doubt in regards to the mediating proposal by simply inviting the members of the Efling union to vote, Sólveig replied that the conditions for approval were too narrow; of the 20,000 Efling members, 25% of them would have to reject the mediating proposal, regardless of the percentage of voters who vote in favour.

The reality in the Icelandic labour market, Sólveig told RÚV, was that it was easier said than done to get so many people to participate in elections within trade unions. When the state mediator presented his mediating proposal, other unions competed to condemn it. Asked if the proposal has served to reduce hostilities between trade unions, Sólveig observed the following:

“I won’t comment on that, but what happens, of course, when such incredible and truly unprecedented situations arise, people realise that there is an experiment going on here: testing how far the powers of the state mediator can be expanded and then creating this situation where if, for some reason, a trade union – whether it is a huge one like Efling or a small one – does not agree to the collective agreements that other unions have signed, then the state mediator will simply say: here is a mediating proposal, enjoy – you have nothing to say about the matter. That’s why I think that the entire Icelandic labour movement has risen up to say that this is obviously not working and this must be stopped.”

State mediator yet to receive Efling’s electoral roll

After the District Court of Reykjavík ruled in favour of the legality of the state mediator’s proposal, the Efling union has requested an expedited hearing by the Court of Appeals (Landsréttur) on the union’s appeal against the District Court’s decision. State mediator, Aðalsteinn Leifsson, told RÚV yesterday, that such a thing would be fruitless:

“We have in our hands a judgement from the district court, which clearly states that any appeal or complaint to another judicial authority has no effect on its enforcement. So, as an official, I must do my duty and ensure that I get this electoral roll and that the members of the Efling union get to exercise their right to vote,” state mediator Aðalsteinn Leifsson stated.

The state mediator has tried to convince Efling to hand over its electoral roll so that members could vote on the mediating proposal. Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir has maintained that compiling a voter list for the mediating proposal was “highly complicated.”

The state mediator has sent an enforcement request to the district magistrate to obtain Efling’s electoral roll. As noted by RÚV, only a few days pass until enforcement is carried out, in this case, representatives from the magistrate’s office go to Efling’s office and collect the voter register.

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