Efling Chair Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir is urging Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market, to intercede in the labour union’s ongoing dispute with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) and withdraw the mediation proposal that state mediator Aðalsteinn Leifsson issued at the end of last week. Sólveig Anna also wants Aðalsteinn to withdraw from the negotiation process entirely. RÚV reports.
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The proposal, which was issued in the wake of an “unprecedented” and extremely contentious round of negotiations, essentially consists of the same terms that SA has agreed upon with other unions.
Under normal circumstances, this proposal would be put to a vote among Efling’s members. Sólveig Anna has repeatedly described it as bad for workers, however, and as such has withheld the union’s electoral roll as a way of stalling the process and preventing a vote from taking place.
Aðalsteinn demanded that the electoral roll be handed over and referred the matter to the Reykjavík District Court, which will review the case on Monday morning.
In the meantime, Efling members have voted on whether the employees of Íslandshótel will strike. The results of this vote will be announced on Monday evening.
‘The situation the state mediator has created is intolerable’
In a post on her Facebook page on Saturday afternoon, Sólveig Anna said “the situation the state mediator has created with his conduct is intolerable,” and “will not be borne.” She then published the letter she sent to Guðmundur Ingi that same day, in which she pointed out that it is the Labour Minister who is responsible for appointing the state mediator and demanded a meeting to discuss the Minister’s intercession in the dispute prior to both the court hearing and Efling’s strike announcement.
“I emphasize to you that this is a grave and precedential matter that revolves around the legitimacy of institutions of entities within the labour market, the fundamental rights of workers, and the trust that working people will have in the official framework of labour market issues in the future,” Sólveig Anna wrote in her letter.
“I ask you not to underestimate the weight that the Efling labour union will put on the response to this issue and, depending on the circumstances, will direct at those institutions in the public sector that are responsible for it. I therefore appeal to you in your responsibility as Minister of the Labour Market to comply with my request for a meeting without delay.”
As of Sunday morning, Sólveig Anna had not received a response from the Minister but told reporters that she wants Guðmundur Ingi to push for the state mediator’s proposal to be withdrawn.
Asked if she also wants the Minister to remove Aðalsteinn Leifsson from his role as state mediator, Sólveig Anna replied that Efling’s leadership has already expressed its lack of confidence in Aðalsteinn as a mediator.
“I think it’s obvious at this stage, given how he’s acted toward us, that he can’t be a party to the dispute we’re now in.”