The Unemployed Won’t Work in Slaughterhouses Skip to content

The Unemployed Won’t Work in Slaughterhouses

Of the 140 employees hired by the food processing company Nordlenska to work in its slaughterhouses in Húsavík, northeast Iceland, and Höfn, southeast Iceland, during the current slaughtering season, approximately 90 are foreign laborers.


Icelandic sheep during roundup. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

“We try to hire Icelanders but there isn’t much interest. Many of them say that they can’t leave their families and instead choose to stay on unemployment benefits,” managing director of Nordlenska Sigmundur Einar Ófeigsson told Morgunbladid.

In Húsavík more than 2,000 sheep are slaughtered daily and around 1,000 in Höfn, which calls for extensive work. “A number of foreigners have helped us during the season for many years,” Ófeigsson said.

“They come from around ten different countries, such as, the UK and the Nordic countries, he added.” “They are traveling laborers who work, for example, during the sugar cane harvest in Cuba and the slaughtering season in Iceland.”

The slaughtering season began in August. Ófeigsson said the lambs look healthy after spending the summer in the mountains. The average carcass weight is 15 kilos and the meat is low in fat, he described.

At Nordlenska approximately 110,000 sheep will be slaughtered this season, which is an increase from last year.

Ófeigsson explained that as the haymaking season wasn’t successful everywhere, some farmers didn’t have as much hay for the winter as they expected and had to slaughter more of their livestock.

Click here to read more about haymaking.


Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!

Share article