Efling Chair Demands Labour Market MP Intercede, Withdraw State Mediator’s Proposal  

Anna Sólveig Jónsdóttir Efling Union

Efling Chair Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir is urging Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market, to intercede in the labour union’s ongoing dispute with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) and withdraw the mediation proposal that state mediator Aðalsteinn Leifsson issued at the end of last week. Sólveig Anna also wants Aðalsteinn to withdraw from the negotiation process entirely. RÚV reports.

See Also: State Mediator’s Proposal Meets with Criticism from Efling and SA

The proposal, which was issued in the wake of an “unprecedented” and extremely contentious round of negotiations, essentially consists of the same terms that SA has agreed upon with other unions.

Under normal circumstances, this proposal would be put to a vote among Efling’s members. Sólveig Anna has repeatedly described it as bad for workers, however, and as such has withheld the union’s electoral roll as a way of stalling the process and preventing a vote from taking place.

Aðalsteinn demanded that the electoral roll be handed over and referred the matter to the Reykjavík District Court, which will review the case on Monday morning.

In the meantime, Efling members have voted on whether the employees of Íslandshótel will strike. The results of this vote will be announced on Monday evening.

‘The situation the state mediator has created is intolerable’

In a post on her Facebook page on Saturday afternoon, Sólveig Anna said “the situation the state mediator has created with his conduct is intolerable,” and “will not be borne.” She then published the letter she sent to Guðmundur Ingi that same day, in which she pointed out that it is the Labour Minister who is responsible for appointing the state mediator and demanded a meeting to discuss the Minister’s intercession in the dispute prior to both the court hearing and Efling’s strike announcement.

“I emphasize to you that this is a grave and precedential matter that revolves around the legitimacy of institutions of entities within the labour market, the fundamental rights of workers, and the trust that working people will have in the official framework of labour market issues in the future,” Sólveig Anna wrote in her letter.

“I ask you not to underestimate the weight that the Efling labour union will put on the response to this issue and, depending on the circumstances, will direct at those institutions in the public sector that are responsible for it. I therefore appeal to you in your responsibility as Minister of the Labour Market to comply with my request for a meeting without delay.”

As of Sunday morning, Sólveig Anna had not received a response from the Minister but told reporters that she wants Guðmundur Ingi to push for the state mediator’s proposal to be withdrawn.

Asked if she also wants the Minister to remove Aðalsteinn Leifsson from his role as state mediator, Sólveig Anna replied that Efling’s leadership has already expressed its lack of confidence in Aðalsteinn as a mediator.

“I think it’s obvious at this stage, given how he’s acted toward us, that he can’t be a party to the dispute we’re now in.”

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.


48-Hour Tour Bus Driver and Hotel Workers’ Strike Starts at Midnight

Wage negotiations

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1553714106277{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Update at 19:03: The proposed strike has been cancelled following a meeting between the SA Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise and leaders of six unions. More strikes might follow in the near future, however. Union leaders believe that following today’s meeting, there is leeway for the wage negotiations to proceed. The two parties will now try to reach an agreement before the end of the weekend, as the next proposed strike will take place in the beginning of next week.

A 48-hour long tour bus driver and hotel worker strike will start at midnight tonight and last until midnight on Friday. Bus drivers and hotel employees who are members of the Efling and VR unions will go on strike.

This strike operation goes further than the strikes last Friday, which lasted for one day. The SA Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise had asked union leaders to postpone the strikes due to the precarious economic situation, as WOW air’s position is unclear at this point in time, along with contractions in the tourism industry. The leaders of Efling and VR did not comply with the request.

A settlement conference between the SA Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise and six unions, including Efling and VR, was postponed for an hour yesterday due to WOW air’s situation.

Efling’s website features a full list of hotels affected by the strikes. The only public bus route affected by the strike is route 89 between Sandgerði, Garður, and Reykjanesbær.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_image src=”https://www.icelandreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/efling.jpg” image_size=”large”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1553708406602{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Above is a statement from Efling.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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.