Restaurant and Hotel Workers to Vote on Strike Skip to content
Efling Chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir
Photo: Efling Chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

Restaurant and Hotel Workers to Vote on Strike

The Efling labour union agreed tonight to initiate “a secret electronic strike ballot” to decide whether or not those members “who are under the general agreement between [the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise] and Efling and the Keflavík union, specifically those working in restaurants, hotels and associated industries” should go on strike. A public statement to this effect was published on the union’s website. The strike, should it proceed, would come in the wake of stalled negotiations over the union’s wage contract with the SA, which expired on December 31.

Tensions between the Efling, VR, VLFA and VLFGrv unions and SA flared again following proposed changes to the tax system presented by Bjarni Benediktsson, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, on Tuesday night.

The government’s contribution to the debate involved a significant change to the Icelandic tax system wherein the lowest tax level would be newly set at a monthly wage of ISK 325,000 [$2,718; €2,395] a month. The taxation on this level would be 32.94%.  The tax-free limit would be set at ISK 159.174 a month, taking into account a 4% pension contribution.

Bjarni’s presentation explained that the limit for both the first and second tax levels would be ISK 325,000 in order to maximize, he said, the benefits for low-income groups, as well as people with disabilities and the elderly. Per the second level, however, those who earn less than ISK 927,087 [$7,746; €6,830] a month would be taxed at 36.94% while those who make more than that would be taxed at 46.24%.

The union chairs, including Efling’s Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, expressed “anger and disappointment” with the government’s proposals, stating that “[i]t was hoped that the government’s involvement could rekindle the discussion, but it’s clear…that this hope will come to nothing.”

Should the work stoppage be approved, it will apply, says the Efling statement, “to cleaning, housekeeping and laundry services for rooms and other sleeping accommodation and connected areas and services, for example in corridors, toilets and shared spaces, in all hotels and guesthouses in the area which Efling has jurisdiction over, which includes the areas of Reykjavík, Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Kjós, Grímsnes og Grafningshreppur, Hveragerði, Ölfus County, and additionally Hafnarfjörður and Garðabær.”

The proposed stoppage would be temporary and would begin at 10:00 am on March 8 and would end at 23:59 on the same day. If a collective agreement were to be signed before the strike, it would, obviously, not go ahead.

Voting on whether or not Efling members will strike will begin on Monday, February 25 at 10 am and end at 10 pm on Thursday, February 28.

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