Members of Efling Union voted down a proposal to reinstate all 40-odd employees of the union office who were dismissed in an unprecedented mass layoff, RÚV reports. Nearly 300 union members attended a general meeting yesterday evening, at which 152 voted in favour of the layoffs and 106 voted in opposition. Efling is Iceland’s second-largest labour union, but some members are said to be considering leaving the union in light of the controversial actions of its re-elected chairperson, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.
Sólveig Anna’s decision to lay off all of the union’s staff earlier this month stirred up controversy within the union as well as Iceland’s labour movement. She has stated that the dismissals, announced to employees via an email sent at 2:00 AM, were an inevitable step in making the union’s pay structure more equitable and transparent. Sólveig has, however, been accused of using the layoffs to get rid of unwanted employees.
Yesterday’s meeting was heated, according to reports from Fréttablaðið. At one point, Sólveig Anna stated it was conflicting that employees who were officially on leave due to long-term illness were present at the meeting, a comment that mbl.is reports riled up attendees further.
Sólveig Anna resigned as chair of Efling last October, in the wake of allegations of bullying within the Efling office. During her four-year tenure, the union spent close to ISK 130 million [$1.04 million; € 909,063] on personnel-related matters and 40 out of 50 of its employees (80%) resigned from their positions, according to a report prepared in collaboration with the union. Sólveig was re-elected as chair of the union in February.