Opposition to Free School Lunches

school children

As a precondition to newly signed collective bargaining agreements, primary school lunches will be free. This will save a family with two children approximately ISK 40,000 [$292, €268] per month.

The initiative is to be funded 75% by the Treasury and 25% by municipalities, who operate the primary schools. However, 26 representatives of the centre-right Independence Party in municipalities across Iceland wrote an article Thursday, criticising the head of the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities for agreeing to the initiative, which they oppose.

School lunches key to the agreement

Vilhjálmur Birgisson, president of the Federation of General and Special workers in Iceland (SGS), told Vísir today that there would be no long-term collective bargaining agreement without the free school lunches. He said the initiative would help families a lot.

He added that the Independence Party representatives were using the labour unions in political chess and that a new agreement was yet to be made with the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities. “I believe 99% of municipalities will keep their promise,” he said. “If any individual municipalities won’t, then we can’t make a new agreement with them in February of next year.”

New Collective Agreements Could Be Signed Today

Samningar Verkföll Sátti

Tens of thousands of workers in Iceland may have new collective agreements this afternoon, RÚV reports. Unions within the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ) and the Confederation of Iceland Enterprise (SA) are set to sign an agreement at 5:00 PM this afternoon. There are, however, still a few wrinkles to be ironed out regarding the participation of municipalities.

Union leaders expressed optimism yesterday that a deal would be made today. The Chairman of the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS), however, stated this morning that the union would not sign the agreement unless all municipalities in Iceland agreed to subsidise school meals. “Simply because this particular measure is a huge measure in the path we’re taking. It is an ISK 5 billion [$36.6 million, €33.6 million] measure, and the state is contributing ISK 4 billion to subsidise school meals, and the local authorities are supposed to contribute ISK 1 billion,” stated Vilhjálmur Birgisson, chairman of SGS.

SGS represents some 44,000 workers in Iceland. Efling Union, which is also a part of the agreement set to be signed today, represents around 27,000 workers. VR, Iceland’s largest union by membership, is not a party to the collective agreement set to be signed this afternoon but continues negotiations with SA today.