The upcoming strikes of up to 70,000 workers in Iceland could have devastating effects on Iceland’s GDP, according to Gylfi Magnússon, professor of economics and former minister of economic affairs.
If a wage agreement is not reached before strikes commence tomorrow, all companies in Iceland can expect to feel—either directly or indirectly—the effects of the actions. “The ease to do business between companies and parties will decrease significantly,” he told Fréttablaðið.
According to Björn Snæbjörnsson, director of Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS), companies in the tourism industry will be worst affected. Around 10,000 of the union’s members will go on strike tomorrow after which they will go on strike indefinitely on May 26. A series of temporary strikes will also take place between tomorrow and May 26, including among bus drivers.
Sigrún Björk Jakobsdóttir, hotel director at Icelandair hotel in Akureyri, is concerned about the long-term impact of the strikes. “All negative news quickly harms the tourism industry. People are perhaps planning a trip over the next year and see or hear that there is a lot of unrest in the labor market and [they] simply don’t want to land in it. The impact is much greater and longer than just these [strike] days.”
The strikes are expected to have a significant impact on the hotel, Sigrún said. “We need to reduce our services to our guests. Some of our staff are going on strike now: hotel maids, kitchen assistants, assistant waiters and others. These are really good and important staff members,” Sigrún said. A solution to the dispute is being sought, she said.