Strike among Capelin Workers Coming Up Skip to content

Strike among Capelin Workers Coming Up

By Iceland Review

It appears as if workers of capelin processing plants in Akranes, the Westman Islands and in east Iceland will start striking on Tuesday as a meeting at the State Mediator’s yesterday ended without a solution to the debate with their employers on wages.


Capelin. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

If a strike takes place, capelin fishing and all processing on land will probably come to a halt and significant amounts of money are at stake, reports.

It would have serious consequences for seafood companies, such as Skinney-Thinganes in Höfn, where more than 200 people work at its freezing plant and capelin processing plant.

If operations are halted, the damages could amount to ISK millions per day. The company still has a few thousand tons of its capelin quota left, which is worth ISK hundreds of millions (for comparison ISK 100 million = USD 852,000, EUR 628,000).

Ásgrímur Ingólfsson, captain of Ásgrímur Halldórsson SF, which catches capelin for the company, said that if the ship has capelin quota left when the strike hits, he will probably have to cease fishing.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday. Last Saturday the representatives of the capelin processors’ workers union made an offer which was rejected. No new offers have been made since and so it is likely that the strike will begin on Tuesday.

In the Westman Islands a few high school students are on leave to work in the local capelin processing plant, as is customary during capelin season, Fréttabladid reports.

Sverrir Albertsson, chairman of Afl, the Federation of General and Special Workers in East Iceland, said he is not critical of the tradition itself but points out the special circumstances this season as workers are preparing to strike.

“We think it is odd that secondary schools are giving students days off to minimize the impact of our strike and undermine the leverage we have in negotiations,” Albertsson commented.

Ólafur H. Sigurjónsson, headmaster of the Westman Islands Secondary School, said that the vacations don’t have anything to do with the upcoming strike.

“It has been the tradition for many decades in the Westman Islands that students help out during high season in the fish processing,” he explained.

In solidarity with capelin workers in Iceland, Norwegian labor unions have placed a landing ban on Icelandic pelagic fish to prevent capelin vessels from unloading their catch for processing in Norway. Albertsson said the landing ban was confirmed yesterday.

A confirmation on landing bans in the Faroe Islands and Denmark is pending and the Icelandic Confederation of Labor (ASÍ) is also working on obtaining a landing ban on Icelandic pelagic vessels in Scotland.

Click here to read more about capelin fishing.

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