Police Intervenes in Efling Strike Outside Fosshótel

Fosshótel strike

The police were called to the Fosshótel hotel in Reykjavík today. Representatives of the hotel accused Efling’s strike guards of threats. The union maintains that the hotel authorities are using force to cover up strike violations.

Efling accuses Íslandshótel of strike violations

This afternoon, the Íslandshótel hotel chain announced that strike guards from the Efling union had threatened non-Efling hotel employees, alongside other employees, who were doing their jobs, RÚV reports. “With this behaviour, Efling has far exceeded normal limits, and in light of the measures, the representatives of Íslandshótel have now decided not to accommodate further visits by representatives of Efling,” a statement by Íslandshótel notes.

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Chair of the Efling union, told RÚV that a group of 7-9 people arrived at the Fosshótel hotel at lunchtime in order to monitor the ongoing strikes. The group was prevented from entering the hotel by the hotel staff, who told union representatives that only two people were allowed into the hotel at a time. Sólveig maintained that it was not possible to manage a strike in such a large hotel with only two people. Protests ensued. In a statement from Efling later this afternoon, the union stated that the purpose of the company was “obviously to cover up strike violations,” which Efling’s strike guards witnessed.

The union also accused a security guard of having pushed strikers at Grand Hotel off the premises by force. “The company completely rejects the untruths that Íslandshótel have sent to the media today, that is, that Efling’s strike guards have made unspecified ‘threats.’ This is pure fabrication and typical of the company’s misleading information to its employees and the public over the past week.”

Protests outside Fosshótel

A reporter from RÚV has followed the hotel strikes closely. The reporter stated that a group of about thirty people from the Efling union arrived at the Fosshótel hotel in order to protest. The representatives of the hotel considered these actions a bit extreme. The doors of the hotel were locked, and patrons experienced some difficulty entering the hotel. The hotel staff later called the police.

After negotiations, mediated by the Association of Icelandic Enterprise (SA), five Efling members were allowed to enter the hotel on the condition that the rest of the group left the premises. According to a statement from Íslandshotel, it was not possible to agree to the group’s request for such a large number of strike guards as initially planned, as guests deserved peace and privacy – despite the strikes.

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.”

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.”