Strikes Likely to Force Closure of Swimming Pools This Weekend

Reykjavík swimming pool Laugardalslaug

Strikes by members of the BSRB union who are employed by swimming pools will most likely force the closure of public pools in West, North, and East Iceland over the Whit Sunday weekend. Sonja Ýr Þorbergsdóttir, Chair of BSRB, told Mbl.is today that “the knot had been slightly loosened” in the wage negotiations between the BSRB and the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities (SNS), although there remained “some distance” between the negotiating parties.

Strikes begin

On May 15, BSRB – Iceland’s largest federation of public sector unions, comprising 19 labour unions with some 23,000 members – began strike action as part of its ongoing negotiations with the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities (SNS). Some 1,000 workers – including staff in preschools in Kópavogur, Garðabær, and Mosfellsbær, and primary schools in Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, and Mosfellsbær – went on strike.

Further strike action was approved last Friday, May 19, which means that this weekend, the number of people participating in BSRB strikes will be around 1,700. Eighteen municipalities will be affected by the strikes.

As noted in an announcement from BSRB this morning, the staff of swimming pools and sports centres in West, North, and East Iceland are among those who will begin strikes this weekend. This will most likely mean that numerous public pools within affected municipalities will be forced to close their doors to visitors over the Whit Sunday weekend.

“If agreements are not reached before June 5, swimming pools and sports centres will be added in even more municipalities, including the capital area, until agreements are reached,” the announcement further notes.

Sonja Ýr Þorbergsdóttir, Chair of BSRB, told Mbl.is today that “the knot had been slightly loosened” in the wage negotiations between the BSRB and the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities; although there remained “some distance” between the negotiating parties.

The staff of the following swimming pools and sports facilities will stop working this weekend:

Akureyri
Akureyri swimming pool
Glerárskóli swimming pool (Glerárskóli Sports Centre)
The sports centre in Hrísey (swimming pool and gym)

Dalvíkurbyggð
Dalvík sports centre (swimming pool)

Fjallabyggð
The swimming pool in Ólafsfjörður and the Fjallabyggð sports centre in Ólafsfjörður
The swimming pool in Siglufjörður and the Fjallabyggð sports centre in Siglufjörður

Skagafjörður
The swimming pool in Varmahlíð and the Varmahlíð sports centre
Sauðárkrókur swimming pool and the Sauðárkrókur sports centre
The swimming pool in Hofsós

Fjarðabyggð
Stefánslaug in Neskaupstaður

Borgarbyggð
Swimming pool and sports centre in Borgarnes

Snæfellsbær
Snæfellsbær swimming pool and sports centre

Vesturbyggð
Brattahlíð, swimming pool in Patreksfjörður

Four Hotels Shuttered as Wage Negotiations Drag On

Strike efling hotel workers union

As the ongoing wage dispute between the Efling union and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) drags on, managers decided to shutter four hotels yesterday. Two additional hotels will be closed tomorrow – and the seventh on Saturday. The Chair of the Association of Companies in Hotel and Accommodation Services (FHG) hopes that the wage dispute will be resolved sooner rather than later.

Heartbreaking having to close again

“It’s an incredible situation in which to find oneself. We have just reopened the hotels after a two-year closure due to the pandemic. The fact that this is happening to us again is heartbreaking,” Kristófer Oliversson, Chair of the Association of Companies in Hotel and Accommodation Services (FHG), stated in an interview with Morgunblaðið.

At the end of January, Efling union members working at seven hotels in the capital area voted in favour of a strike beginning on February 7. After two weeks of strikes, the first four of seven hotels targeted by the first round of strikes were shuttered yesterday. These include Hotel Reykjavík Saga and Hotel Reykjavík Grand, which offer, in total, over 400 rooms.

“It’s admirable that the managers of these hotels have held out for such a long time. They’re trying to keep the other three hotels open,” Kristófer stated. Companies within the hotel and hospitality industry are worried about the consequences of the ongoing Efling strikes and further strikes that are impending.

People will be on the streets

According to an announcement from the Icelandic Tourist Board, a decision has been made to close two additional hotels tomorrow – and a third on Saturday. These are Berjaya Reykjavik Natura Hotel, Hilton Reykjavík Nordica, and Berjaya Reykjavik Marina Hotel. The three hotels offer over 600 rooms. Yesterday morning, an emergency phone line was opened for hotel guests who may require assistance or need help with rebookings.

“People will be out on the streets as the week progresses. That is the situation with which the Icelandic Tourist Board is trying to deal,” Kristófer stated.

He also suggested the establishment of a mass-aid centre on the rationale that it was difficult to stop the flow of visitors. He does not see how to transport a large group of people from one place to another.

“The big booking engines don’t provide us with the necessary information so that we can contact guests directly. They keep this information to themselves so as to sell additional services to the guests. This means that it’s unclear whether visitors can be notified of the closures.”

Barring any unforeseen developments, all Efling members who work in hotels and guesthouses will be on strike at noon on Tuesday. Kristófer told Morgunblaðið that there are currently no plans to close hotels that will be affected by these latest strike actions.

“Of course, we hope that the wage dispute will be resolved,” Kristófer Oliversson concluded.

Public Pools in Capital Area Set to Reopen at 3 PM

Laugardalslaug geothermal swimming pool in Reykjavík

Following closures yesterday, public pools in the capital area are expected to open again at 3 PM today.

A prolonged cold spell leads to hot-water supply cuts

Owing to a prolonged cold spell, the utility company Veitur decided yesterday to cut its supply of hot water to some of its largest users, among them, the public swimming pools in the capital area. All of the pools throughout the capital region were subsequently closed.

In a news bulletin published yesterday, the City of Reykjavík noted that most of the pools will reopen at 3 PM today. Vesturbæjarlaug, in West Reykjavík, began reheating its hot tubs and pools at noon and hopes that temperatures will be just right at 3 PM. Laugardalslaug will also open at 3 PM. The beach in Nauthólsvík opened again at noon while Árbæjarlaug in East Reykjavík will open at 9 AM tomorrow.

Iceland Review recommends calling public pools in advance to make sure that your pool of choice is open.

On its website, Veitur noted that – due to the heavy use of hot water – residents in some areas of the capital region may experience a drop in pressure. “We encourage people to take good care of the heat, check the seals on windows and doors, make sure the heating system is working properly and don’t leave the hot tub running on the coldest days,” a post on Veitur’s website reads.