Efling Suspends Strikes, Talks to Resume at 10 AM

Efling union

Efling’s negotiating committee has postponed all strikes until Sunday. The Director of SA’s Labour Market Division says no victory has been won; the postponements are primarily a way to ensure peace to negotiate, RÚV reports. Talks are set to resume 10 AM Friday.

The suspension of strikes not a victory

Efling’s negotiating committee has agreed to postpone all strikes until Sunday so that “formal talks” can begin with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA). Ástráður Haraldsson, temporarily appointed state mediator, told RÚV that a decision had been made to impose a media ban on the negotiating committees and that the plan was to conclude the talks this weekend. Whether or not the negotiations would prove successful would have to be seen.

Ragnar Árnason, Director of SA’s Labour Market Division, clarified that the postponement of strikes was not an upshot of the negotiations but was primarily about ensuring peace to work: It is difficult to call people to a meeting when they’re busy monitoring strikes and putting out fires in their places of work.

Ragnar stated that SA requested that the strikes be postponed longer but that the decision was up to Efling and SA was not in a position to make further demands. “We’ll see what the next few days bring, that is if we have to postpone strikes again if things go well this weekend.” Ragnar does not consider the suspension of strikes a victory; companies had suffered a lot of damage during the cessation of work.

The right decision at this time

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Chair of Efling, told RÚV that the union’s negotiating committee had weighed the decision to postpone strikes for “a long time.” The committee had concluded that this was the right thing to do, given the situation. “We would never have made this decision unless we believed that talks were progressing, that something was happening, that there was something to be gained.”

Sólveig added that things would clear up soon enough. Efling would attend tomorrow’s meeting and the negotiating committee was prepared to hold discussions for as long as necessary. She admitted that it had been a difficult decision to postpone the strikes because strikes are “their weapons.” “They’ve gotten us to this place; we’re headed towards real wage negotiations.”

No Postponement of Strikes Without Meaningful Offer

Sólveig Anna

Representatives of the Efling union and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) attended a meeting with temporarily appointed state mediator Ástráður Haraldsson at 10 AM this morning. Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Chair of Efling, stated that the union would not consider postponing strikes unless a meaningful offer was made, Vísir reports.

No postponement without a meaningful offer

Ástráður Haraldsson began meeting with the two disputing parties at 9 AM yesterday. After a long day of discussion, Ástráður told the media that they were still trying to determine whether there was a basis for actual, substantive wage negotiations.

In an article in Morgunblaðið today, SA stated that postponing strikes was the basis for continued negotiations.

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir responded to this statement in an interview with Vísir this morning. “Efling will not postpone strike action unless a meaningful offer is made by SA; there really would have to be some meat on the bones in that respect.”

When asked if she was optimistic about the negotiations, Sólveig was unwilling to say: “Let’s see. I don’t really know what will happen in the next few hours. The Efling negotiation committee and I hope, as we have always hoped, that Efling agreements will be signed with Efling members.”

Unwise to rely on government intervention

Eyjólfur Árni Rafnsson, the Chair of SA – who will be leading the negotiations on behalf of SA in the absence of the indisposed Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson – told Vísir that he had first read about SA’s demand regarding the postponement strikes in the news this morning. He had not made such a statement himself.

“We are sitting down at 10 AM. I hope it will be a long day. The fact that negotiations are taking place is remarkable. If it’s a short day, it’s not as remarkable.”

When asked about the rather combative statements that were being made by the opposing camps, and if it wasn’t advisable to spare them, Eyjólfur Árni replied: “Sure, it’s always best to show constraint. We are sitting down to talk. We’re going to throw ourselves into this wholeheartedly.”

Eyjólfur Árni concluded by saying that it was SA’s role to work towards agreements as opposed to relying on a possible intervention from the government.