No progress was made toward a new collective agreement for Efling members at yesterday’s meeting between the City of Reykjavík and Efling Union. Both parties published notices yesterday expressing disappointment at the lack of development. No further negotiation meetings have been scheduled at this time. The general strike affecting preschools, primary schools, welfare services, and garbage collection continues.
Disappointment on both sides
“The Negotiation Committee of the City of Reykjavík expresses great disappointment that no more progress was achieved at the day’s negotiation meeting with Efling’s Negotiation Committee,” a notice from the city states. It goes on to say that the city’s guiding light in the talks has been “to raise in particular the lowest wages with special emphasis on the wages of female professions.” The City reiterated the terms of their offer that were made public last week. They include an increase in the average monthly wage of general staff in preschools to ISK 460,000 ($3,620/€3,300) by the year 2022; cutting four hours from the work week, and increasing the number of vacation days to 30 for all employees of the City of Reykjavík.
A notice from Efling Union also expressed “disappointment and heavy concern” over the unsuccessful meeting. The Union criticised the city’s slowness, inconsistency, which “are not consistent with the level of seriousness of the wage dispute.”
“The mayor makes all sorts of dazzling promises in the media, but what happens in the negotiation room is in no way consistent with that,” Efling’s chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir stated.
Parents feel the pressure
It’s ten days into the strike, and parents of preschool children are feeling the effects. “It’s starting to take a toll, you’re taking leave to cover it, and working on weekends,” Alexandra Þórlindsdóttir, a parent in the Vesturbær neighbourhood, told RÚV. The effects of the strike on preschool services vary significantly depending on the number of Efling employees and their position. While some preschools are offering part-time care, others are closed entirely while the strike lasts. The neighbourhood of Breiðholt appears to be the most affected.
Over 50% support strike actions
A poll conducted by Maskína on behalf of Efling shows significant support for striking workers. While 59% stated that they strongly or fully support Efling in the wage negotiations, 20% said they were indifferent, and 21% held little or no support. When asked whether they supported Efling’s strike, 56% of respondents strongly or fully supported the strike, 19% were indifferent, and 25% were opposed. The poll was conducted between February 14 and 21 and had 871 respondents from all around the country.