Sixty-five employees of Reykjavík Energy (OR) were laid off yesterday, 45 men and 20 women, which make up 11 percent of the staff. The layoffs took place throughout all of OR’s divisions. The number of employees is now down to 501.
The headquarters of Reykjavík Energy. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Twenty-two of those laid off were executives and office workers, 21 specialists, 11 mechanics, machinists and computer technicians and 11 unspecialized workers, Morgunbladid reports.
“These measures were necessary but at the same time painful and hard. It has been a learning experience and you grow with every new experience,” commented Helgi Thór Ingason who became CEO of OR in August.
“It was an extremely well-planned process and a lot of work has been put into it. I’m very satisfied with the work that has been conducted among groups of people within OR,” he continued.
“Now we have to lift the spirit within the company again because the situation has been horrible in the past weeks. We have plans on how we can rebuild, many of which have come from the brainstorming of employees,” Ingason said.
“Once the uncertainty has been eradicated, the atmosphere immediately changes,” he added. Everyone who received a letter of resignation was offered an ISK 100,000 (USD 8,900, EUR 6,400) educational grant. No one over the age of 65 was laid off.
“We believe the measures we undertook [yesterday] will deliver ISK 400-500 million [USD 3.5-4.4 million, EUR 2.9-3.2 million] in savings. It has a huge impact on the company’s position,” the CEO explained. “These rationalization measures are all part of a larger context.”
OR has also reviewed dividend payments and raised the price of its services. Parts of its facilities have been cleared and rented to other companies.
“It wasn’t a fun day at work. For my taste it’s a bit harsh when you give people notice at 1 pm and then people know that their access cards stop working at 4 pm,” commented Stefán Pálsson, a former OR staff member and shop steward at OR.
He believes most of the company’s top executives will keep their jobs. “There may be some rearrangement and it’s possible some people will lose their status. It is both an old and new story in cutbacks in Iceland.”
Members of the Independence Party who have a seat on Reykjavík City Council issued a statement yesterday saying they regret the mass layoffs. “It is the most extensive mass layoff in the history of Reykjavík,” the council members declared.
They also expressed their disappointment that Mayor Jón Gnarr and the City Council’s chairman Dagur B. Eggertsson permitted the execution of this “important political affair” without it being discussed thoroughly within the City Council.
Click here to read about OR’s price increases.