Efling Union Would Not Pay Workers in Potential Lockout Skip to content

Efling Union Would Not Pay Workers in Potential Lockout

By Yelena

Samningar Verkföll Sátti
Photo: Golli. Chairperson of Efling Union, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir .

The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) is currently voting on a lockout that would affect 20,000 Efling employees. Locked-out workers would not be allowed to show up to their usual employment. As such, they would not receive wages, accrue leave, or receive pension payments. Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir has stated that Efling would not provide financial support to members in the case of a lockout, which differs from the policies of other large unions in Iceland.

Read More: SA to Vote on Lockout Against Efling

The lockout vote is the latest in a series of escalating moves in the fraught collective agreement negotiations between SA and Efling. The vote ends on Wednesday at 4:00 PM and if the lockout is approved by SA member companies, it will begin on March 2 at noon. While workers would not be collecting wages during a lockout, neither would they receive financial support from Efling, a notice from the union states, as “the union does not hold responsibility for a lockout and the labour dispute fund cannot sustain such payments.”

Other unions pay members in case of lockout

Supreme Court Barrister Lára V. Júlíusdóttir told mbl.is that it has been around 35 years since lockouts have been used as a significant tactic in Icelandic wage negotiations. Lára says that Efling’s decision to not pay out to members affected by a lockout would possibly be disputed. She adds that other large Icelandic unions, including VR and RSÍ, emphasise paying from the labour dispute fund both in the case of strikes (initiated by unions) and lockouts (initiated by employers).

Efing is Iceland’s second-largest union by membership, and a lockout would significantly impact most sectors of the country’s economy. CEO of SA Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson called the lockout an “absolute emergency measure” intended to put pressure on Efling. The union has called the lockout a “one-sided, coercive measure” intended to “force workers to accept a worse outcome in contract negotiations than otherwise.”

Efling approves further strike

In the meantime, Efling members have voted in favour of further strike action. The strikes would begin on February 28 at noon and would affect some 2,000 workers in security companies, cleaning companies, and hotels.

Kristján Þórður Snæbjarnason, president of The Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ) stated he would have preferred to see Efling and SA spending more energy on negotiations than strikes and lockouts, but pointed out that the two measures are not comparable in their impact on society.

“Efling’s strikes are intended to affect the position of the contracting parties and put pressure on the businesses. However, they don’t have the same crippling effect on society that lockouts could potentially have. I think SA is on a bit of thin ice if they’re going to resort to these actions.”

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