The members of the Efling labour union have voted in favor of a strike, RÚV reports. The vote comes after wage negotiations broke down between the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) and labour unions last week. The one-day work stoppage will begin at 10:00 am on March 8 and will end at 23:59 on the same day.
Some 8,000 of the union’s members were invited to vote on the March 8 strike, which would affect around 700 workers in cleaning, housekeeping, and laundry services in hotels and guest houses in the Reykjavík capital area, as well as some nearby municipalities.
SA has disputed the legality of the vote, saying that according to the Unions and Labour Disputes Act, only union members directly affected by a proposed strike are permitted to vote on the action. Efling chair Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir said, however, that the vote has been organised carefully and with legal counsel. “We are fully confident that we are doing everything correctly,” she stated. A parliamentary meeting is being held on the dispute today and there will be a hearing about it on Monday. It’s expected that there will be a judgement on the legality of the vote before the scheduled March 8 strike.
Of the 862 votes that were cast on the work stoppage, 769, or 89%, voted in favor of striking, while only 67 opposed. 26 voters were neutral on the issue. Given the overall size of the union, however, voter turnout was very low: only 11% of Efling members voted on the issue.
Asked about the vote results, Sólveig Anna remarked that “It’s the overwhelming majority of those who, of course—as everyone ought to understand—want to stop working because their wages are so shamefully low that it isn’t even theoretically possible that they can make ends meet. They are going to stand together now, just like I knew they would.”