Sólveig Anna Confident That Strikes Will Be Approved

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir Efling

300 employees at Íslandshótel hotels are set to go on strike if action is approved by the Efling union. Efling’s Chairperson is confident that the strike will be approved. Tourism advocates are surprised that the strikes are being directed towards a single employer, RÚV reports.

Efling survey indicates willingness to strike

Efling union members will begin voting on strike action today. If the first wave of action is approved, three hundred employees of Íslandshótel hotels (i.e. custodial staff) will go on strike. Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Chairperson of Efling, told RÚV yesterday that, based on conversations with hotel workers, she expected union members to approve strike action.

“A strike notice has been accepted, and voting will begin tomorrow at noon. The strike action applies to union members employed by Íslandshótel hotels. These are approximately three hundred people, custodial staff, who have the opportunity to vote on whether they are prepared to strike in order to push for better contracts: Efling contracts for Efling people.”

“And you expect union members to approve of the action?” a reporter with RÚV inquired.

“Yes, I expect that the action will be met with approval. The results of a very extensive wage survey conducted by Efling indicate that a very large group of Efling members are prepared to quit their jobs to fight for better conditions. Representatives from our negotiating committee have also been visiting these hotels to speak with union members. It’s gone very well, and we had a meeting here yesterday, which also went very well,” Sólveig Anna observed yesterday.

Tourism advocates surprised

Tourism advocates are surprised that the strike action is being directed at a single employer. Kristófer Oliversson, the Director of the Association of Companies in Hotel and Accommodation Services (FHG), told RÚV that it was “unbelievable” that these strikes were being directed against almost “a single ID number, a single hotel owner.”

“It’s been just over six months since we were properly up and running, and now another setback. And it’s always the same custodial staff that’s being asked to strike. This is about five per cent of Efling members here in Reykjavík who are being asked to take up the fight, again and again. I find it quite incredible,” Kristófer stated yesterday.

Sólveig Anna added that this was only the first step. “At the same time, we’ve been working on a bigger and more comprehensive plan, which will then go to a strike vote if no wage agreement is negotiated in the near future,” Sólveig Anna observed.

Kristófer told RÚV yesterday that the tourism industry was in “a tight spot” after a difficult time during the pandemic.” There are good months ahead; February has now become a good time to visit Iceland.

When the views of tourism advocates were put to Sólveig Anna, the Efling Chair stated that she did buy the argument. “I find it incredible that people who are willing to keep these companies going, to profit from the work of others, lack the decency to pay those same people a living wage.”

When asked if she expected that further action by Efling would be directed against the tourism industry, Sólveig refused to answer. “I’m not going to answer that at this time. Ultimately, this is for the negotiating committee to decide. We make all our decisions during meetings with the committee, and I discuss them when they’ve been made,” Sólveig Anna remarked.

When asked if any specific groups within the union had refused to strike, Sólveig responded thusly: “No, no groups have refused to go on strike, not at all.”