Little progress has been made between the Union of Icelandic Journalists (UIJ) and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (CIE), who have been in negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement for reporters all summer.
Plans are currently being finalised among members of the UIJ for strikes in November, Vísir reports.
According to the plan, web-media reporters, along with photographers and cameramen, will go on a four-hour strike on Friday, November 8th. The strike will then extend to eight hours on Friday, November 15th, and twelve hours on Friday, November 22nd.
“If the strikes prove ineffective in securing an agreement comparable to what other trades have been offered, we are considering print-media strikes on Thursday, November 28th, the day before Black Friday,” Chairman of the UIJ, Hjálmar Jónsson, stated.
Black Friday – which is widely regarded as the beginning of the American Christmas shopping season – is the informal name for the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the US. Iceland has gradually adopted this American custom, with many local stores offering highly promoted sales. As myriad advertisements are run in print media on Black Friday, the day has become one of the biggest print media days in Iceland.
Negotiations between the UIJ and the CIE will continue next Tuesday. According to Jónsson, that meeting may prove decisive: “If negotiations don’t move forward then we will likely vote on strikes the following Wednesday. We’re being offered less than all of the other professions in Iceland. I’m disappointed in myself for having let them string me along for ten months without having reached an agreement.”
Despite difficulties, negotiations with smaller employers have gone well: “The strikes only apply to those parties unwilling to negotiate with us. Four companies have decided to let the CIE negotiate on their behalf,” Jónsson says, referring to Fréttablaðið, Morgunblaðið, Sýn, and RÚV. Jónsson estimates that a third of the journalists employed by RÚV are members of the UIJ.
According to tradition, Jónsson says, proprietors and managing directors are allowed to work through strikes. News directors and editors are members of the UIJ and it is a matter of opinion whether they may or may not work. I’d say it’s highly unlikely, however, that they’ll start performing the jobs of their underlings.”
If journalists decide to strike in November it will be the first time since 1978 that Icelandic reporters go on strike. During that time, of course, there was no such thing as online reporting or news websites. In an interview with Vísir in late September, Jónsson emphasised that the media would still fulfill its public duty, in spite of strikes:
“We will, of course, take into consideration the nature of modern media, ensuring that people have access to information. That is our duty and we can’t put that duty on hold just because we’re in a collective bargaining dispute.”