Hotel Workers Vote in Favour of Strike

Efling hotel strike approved 2023

Efling Union members working at seven hotels in the capital area have voted in favour of a strike that will begin on February 7, RÚV reports. Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir stated that 66% had voted in favour of the strike. The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) believes the strike is illegal and has plans to file a lawsuit against Efling in the Labour Court.

Efling is Iceland’s second-largest workers’ union, with some 20,000 members. Only the workers at the affected hotels were permitted to vote on the strike, just under 300 members. According to Efling, the strike was approved with 124 votes cast in favour and 58 against. Seven voters did not take a stand on the matter. If Efling and SA do not reach an agreement by February 7, an indefinite strike will begin at the following hotels:

  • Fosshótel Reykjavík
  • Hótel Reykjavík Grand
  • Hótel Reykjavík Saga
  • Hótel Reykjavík Centrum
  • Fosshótel Baron
  • Fosshótel Lind
  • Fosshótel Rauðará

“We are, of course, proud of our work, but we are also proud of the members who went to the polls and managed to rise up, despite having been subjected to relentless illegal election propaganda, illegal, from the Icelandic Confederation of Enterprise; constant threats and interference from their employers and then of course this unprecedented and illegal mediation proposal by the state mediator,” Sólveig Anna stated. “Nevertheless, these people stood up for themselves and voted to strike in order to push for a better collective agreement.”

See Also: Efling Demands Labour Market Minister Intercede in Negotiations

Efling is the only union to have not yet finalised a collective agreement with SA in the latest round of negotiations on the Icelandic labour market. The union represents many of Iceland’s lowest-paid workers and has been particularly militant in its recent negotiations, citing the impact of inflation and rising costs of living on workers.

Negotiators Reach Temporary Agreement, Await Government Input

Anna Sólveig Jónsdóttir Efling Union

The three-day hotel workers’ and bus drivers’ strike scheduled to start at midnight has been called off, RÚV reports. Several unions and the Icelandic Confederation of Enterprise (SA) have signed a declaration of intent which outlines the terms of agreement for workers’ contracts valid until November 1, 2022. Union leaders say it’s now up to the government whether the agreement is finalised – or negotiations return to the drawing board.

Taxes and housing are key factors

“We agreed on a framework for a potential contract,” stated Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson, chairperson of VR Union, “and it entails the government being part of the solution,” adding that negotiators would most likely meet with government representatives this morning. Though the details of the agreement have not been made public, Ragnar Þór says it could be acceptable for unions, the business community, and the government if all goes well.

Ragnar confirms that the government’s contribution concerns taxation and housing issues. Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir says her union has emphasised tax cuts for the lowest earners. “I hope the message has come across clearly and that we will receive the news today that that it will be so,” she stated, adding “I hope the government takes on the great responsibility they truly bear now.”

Rush hour strikes ongoing

Although a three-day hotel workers’ and bus drivers’ strike scheduled to start at midnight has been called off, bus drivers’ rush hour strikes took place this morning between 7.00-9.00am. Efling CEO Viðar Þorsteinsson stated that the union would be meeting with representatives of Strætó this morning.

Two-Day Hotel Worker and Bus Driver Strikes Called Off

trade union iceland

The planned strike of hotel workers and bus drivers who are members of the Efling and VR unions that was planned to begin at midnight on March 28 and end at 11:59 PM on March 29 has been called off, RÚV reports. While multiple short-term strikes are still planned to go forward in the next week, the cancellation of this two-day action does signal that some progress has finally been made in negotiations between six labour unions, including Efling and VR, and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA), Iceland’s employer federation.

The decision to call off the strikes was made at a five-hour negotiation meeting between SA and the unions that was held on Wednesday afternoon, mere hours before the strike was supposed to go into effect. It was the sixteenth such negotiation meeting and had, in fact, been postponed for the last two days because union chairs said that uncertainty with WOW air’s situation would impact negotiations. SA had requested that the forthcoming strike action be postponed in light of the ongoing WOW air negotiations, but the unions rejected this request.

The strike was cancelled “…in light of a new basis for talks, which has now been presented on behalf of the employers’ association, SA,” wrote Efling in a statement on its website. The exact details of the “new basis” was not specified, but Efling congratulated its members on “the great work that has been put into the planning and execution of the strikes so far, which have now resulted in a limited but significant success.”

“Whether it succeeds or not, we’re going to try to make it work in the next days and over the weekend,” remarked Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson, the chair of VR.

Both Ragnar Þór and Efling chair Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir noted that this cancellation does not signal the end of negotiations by any means—it’s simply a step in the right direction. “I must express my feeling that we wouldn’t have made it here except for the fact that the strike weapon is a sharp one and it stings,” said Sólveig Anna.

The next set of 24-hour strikes is scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday next week. The city buses run by Kynnisferðir will also start their rush-hour strikes on Monday.

 

Strike Expected to Interrupt Bus System

The planned strike operations of unions VR and Efling will affect the Strætó bus system in the capital area. Strætó released a statement today on the matter.

The interruptions and delays will take place in the week of March 23-29, as bus drivers will stop their buses for five minutes daily. Public transport users should expect a significant interruption to the bus system if negotiations do not conclude with a contract before that time. The strike will also affect driving services for disabled individuals as well as bus routes outside the capital area.

Capital area interruptions

The planned strike operations will affect the following routes in the capital area: 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 24, 28, 35, and 36. The drivers on these routes drive on behalf of Kynnisferðir and are therefore part of Efling union.

Some interruptions will be experienced in the following routes: 11, 13, 22, 23, 31, 33, 34, 43, and 44. A part of the drivers, on these routes, drive on behalf of Hagvagnar and some of them are Efling members. Strætó has announced that these routes will experience some delays, but only on single trips rather than all of the routes at once.

The strikes will not affect the following routes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 18.

Driving for disabled individuals

Around a quarter of the 90 drivers who drive disabled individuals, on behalf of Strætó, so Strætó expects significant interruptions to those services.

The following routes outside the capital area will be affected: 

South Iceland: 51, 52, 72, 73, 75

West – and North Iceland: 57

Reykjanes peninsula: 55

Series of Workers’ Strikes Looming

hotel workers strike Reykjavík

Dozens of strike actions among bus drivers, hotel workers, and other workers in tourism are on the horizon in the Reykjavík capital area. Bus drivers voted 92% in favour of strike measures last weekend. Led by Efling Union, six separate strikes lasting 1-3 days are planned over the next several weeks, as well as seven work-to-rule measures affecting workers in the aforementioned industries. A general strike will begin on May 1 unless labour unions and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) reach an agreement first.

Upcoming strikes

Efling Union has two types of strikes planned: traditional work stoppages and work restrictions. Work stoppages will take place from midnight to midnight on the following days:

March 22 (1 day)

March 28-29 (2 days)

April 3-5 (3 days)

April 9-11 (3 days)

April 15-17 (3 days)

April 23-25 (3 days)

May 1 (until the strike is called off)

The following work restrictions apply to bus drivers:

March 18 through April 30: Work to rule strike

March 23 through April 30: No checking of tickets or counting of passengers

April 6 through April 30: No work before noon

For hotel workers, the following restrictions apply:

March 18 through April 30: Work to rule strike

March 23 through April 30: No cleaning of toilets or common areas

March 30 through April 30: No cleaning of rooms where guests have not checked out and no serving of breakfast

April 26 through April 30: No laundry service

Efling provides a list of hotels affected by the strike actions on their website.

SA takes Efling to court again

SA plans to take Efling Union to the Labour Court over the proposed strike actions. The confederation says the legality of the strikes is questionable, particularly in the case of work restrictions. “A strike is about not showing up to work and not receiving wages. [In Efling’s planned work restrictions] you have to show up to work, not do your whole job, and still receive wages. This is a sharp and poorly defensible understanding of the application and development of traditional strike rights.”

Efling’s executive director Viðar Þorsteinnson says the union had already reduced their demands before negotiations fell apart. “Of course everyone here wants to reach an agreement but it has to be acceptable to people and the people with the lowest income here, in our community, must be able to live off their salaries.”

Hotel Workers’ Strike Has Begun

Strike efling hotel workers union

Striking hotel workers demonstrate at main street Laugavegur at 10:00. Photo: Golli.

The proposed hotel workers strike started at 10:00 this morning. “We’re here! We’re striking! Get used to it!”, read a banner held by striking hotel workers as they walked down Laugavegur street in downtown Reykjavík. Hotel cleaning staff stopped working at 9:45 for a work break, and then left their hotels at 10:00. The strike will last until 23:59 today.

Hotel managers are allowed to work instead of their striking workers, and some have expressed that they intend to do so.

The strike affects around 700 Efling Union members working in cleaning, housekeeping, and laundry services in hotels and guest houses in the Reykjavík capital area, as well as some nearby municipalities.

The legality of the strike had previously been disputed but the Labour Court had concluded that the process was fully legal.

Kristófer Oliversson, director of the Centerhotels hotel chain, has stated that the hotel workers strike is one of the main talking points in one of the largest travel conferences in the world, ITB Berlin. He suggested that the strike will have a damaging impact. “It will spread so quickly to the market. Buyers of trips are here, and this is the main interest, what is happening in this country. It has spread to the market and WOW is currently in difficult negotiations. A two-month strike has been announced, and now this one. It has to bother potential investors,” he stated.

 

 

Hotel Workers Strike Tomorrow

Wage negotiations

Around 700 hotel workers in Reykjavík and the surrounding area will go on strike tomorrow, RÚV reports. While the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise contested the legality of the strike vote conducted by Efling Union, the Labour Court ruled today that the process was fully legal.

The one-day work stoppage will begin at 10:00 am tomorrow morning and will end at 23:59. The strike affects around 700 Efling Union members working in cleaning, housekeeping, and laundry services in hotels and guest houses in the Reykjavík capital area, as well as some nearby municipalities.

SA had disputed the legality of the vote, saying that according to the Unions and Labour Disputes Act, only union members directly affected by a proposed strike are permitted to vote on the action. Efling had permitted some 8,000 members to vote, not only those directly affected by the strike. SA then took the case to the Labour Court, who announced a ruling in Efling’s favour this afternoon.

Efling’s chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir stated she was “incredibly happy” about the ruling. “I very much look forward to tomorrow,” she told reporters.

Union Members Approve Strike

Wage negotiations

The members of the Efling labour union have voted in favor of a strike, RÚV reports. The vote comes after wage negotiations broke down between the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) and labour unions last week. The one-day work stoppage will begin at 10:00 am on March 8 and will end at 23:59 on the same day.

Some 8,000 of the union’s members were invited to vote on the March 8 strike, which would affect around 700 workers in cleaning, housekeeping, and laundry services in hotels and guest houses in the Reykjavík capital area, as well as some nearby municipalities.

SA has disputed the legality of the vote, saying that according to the Unions and Labour Disputes Act, only union members directly affected by a proposed strike are permitted to vote on the action. Efling chair Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir said, however, that the vote has been organised carefully and with legal counsel. “We are fully confident that we are doing everything correctly,” she stated. A parliamentary meeting is being held on the dispute today and there will be a hearing about it on Monday. It’s expected that there will be a judgement on the legality of the vote before the scheduled March 8 strike.

Of the 862 votes that were cast on the work stoppage, 769, or 89%, voted in favor of striking, while only 67 opposed. 26 voters were neutral on the issue. Given the overall size of the union, however, voter turnout was very low: only 11% of Efling members voted on the issue.

Asked about the vote results, Sólveig Anna remarked that “It’s the overwhelming majority of those who, of course—as everyone ought to understand—want to stop working because their wages are so shamefully low that it isn’t even theoretically possible that they can make ends meet. They are going to stand together now, just like I knew they would.”

Around 700 Workers Have Voted on Strike

Efling mobile polling station

Some 700 Efling Union members have voted on a planned hotel workers’ strike, RÚV reports. The proposed one-day strike would occur on March 8, applying to Efling Union members who work in cleaning, housekeeping, and laundry services in hotels and guest houses in the Reykjavík capital area as well as some nearby municipalities. Polls close at 10.00pm tonight.

Though Efling has not been officially tracking the number of votes coming in, Víðar Þorsteinsson, the union’s managing director, says some 700 members have voted. “We are happy because this is around the number that would go on strike,” he stated. Voting has been taking place online, at Efling headquarters, and in a mobile polling station driven between workplaces.

After wage negotiations broke down between SA and workers’ unions last week, Efling Union began to prepare for strike action. Some 8,000 of the union’s members were invited to vote on the March 8 strike, which would affect around 700 workers.

Dispute Legality of Strike Vote

Wage negotiations

The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) has called for Efling Union to stop collecting members’ votes on a proposed hotel workers’ strike set to take place on March 8. In a press release on their website, SA states the vote is being conducted illegally and threatened to bring the case before the Labour Court. Efling representatives insist the union is in the right.

After wage negotiations broke down between SA and workers’ unions last week, Efling Union began to prepare for strike action. The proposed one-day strike would occur on March 8, applying to Efling members who work in cleaning, housekeeping, and laundry services in hotels and guest houses in the Reykjavík capital area as well as some nearby municipalities. Workers to whom the strike pertains have until Thursday to vote on the issue.

SA asserts that according to the Unions and Labour Disputes Act, only union members directly affected by a proposed strike are permitted to vote on the action. Efling, says SA, is inviting 8,000 members to vote though they have estimated the strike would affect around 700.

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Efling’s chairperson, says that SA’s opposition does not come as a surprise. She adds, however, that the vote has been organised carefully and with legal counsel. “We are fully confident that we are doing everything correctly,” she stated.