Special Forces Respond to Knife Incident at Nightclub

police lögreglan

Special forces were twice deployed in the capital region Saturday night: first for a man with a replica gun, and then for a drunk man with a knife at a nightclub, Vísir reports. In a separate incident, a concealed knife was seized at a Mosfellsbær festival.

A busy night for law enforcement

It was a busy night for law enforcement in the capital region on Saturday night extending into early Sunday morning. The National Police Commissioner’s special unit (i.e. special forces) was deployed twice: first in response to a report of a man brandishing a pistol, and then due to another individual allegedly intimidating patrons with a knife outside a nightclub, Vísir reports.

The official police log covering the period from 5 PM Saturday to 5 AM Sunday reveals the series of events. Authorities were first alerted to the presence of a firearm visible through a window of a building in Reykjavík. Police and special forces were dispatched to the location, where they apprehended one individual in relation to the incident. Upon examination, the supposed firearm was determined to be an air gun, albeit an exact replica of a handgun. The matter is currently under investigation.

Subsequently, reports were received about a man appearing threatening and in possession of a knife outside a nightclub. Though the man was not actively using the knife in a threatening manner, he was carrying it. Police and special forces arrived at the scene, arresting the individual who was later found to be inebriated. He was detained and placed in a holding cell pending further investigation.

Knife seized at Mosfellsbær festival

In a separate event in Mosfellsbær, police received reports of a young man at the Í túninu heima festival carrying a concealed knife. Acting on witness descriptions, the police located the individual and discovered a kitchen knife hidden within his clothing. The knife was confiscated, and relevant information was collected at the scene for ongoing investigations.

Young Woman Died from Cold-Weather Exposure in December

A woman in her forties was found dead not far from her home near Esjumelur in Mosfellsbær on December 20, RÚV reports. The precise time of her death remains unknown.

The storm before Christmas

Following heavy snow in the capital area during the days leading up to Christmas, Reykjanesbraut – the road leading to Keflavík Airport – became impassable. The closure led to numerous flight delays and cancellations, with many travellers expressing their criticism of the Icelandic authorities.

During the time of the storm, a woman in her forties – living in Esjumelur in Mosfellsbær – was on her way home on foot. She was found dead near her residence on December 20. She died from exposure to cold temperatures. The precise time of her death is unknown.

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Chief Inspector of the Capital Area Police, Grímur Grímsson, stated that there was no evidence of foul play.

Death from exposure in Iceland is extremely rare, but the cold snap that has persisted in the country over the past six weeks has been one of the worst in years.

Four of Six Capital Area Mayors Not Up for Reelection

Big leadership changes will take place in the Reykjavík capital area in Iceland’s upcoming municipal elections. RÚV reports that four out of the six current mayors in the region will not be running. Municipal elections will be held across the country on May 14, 2022, and local and municipal council members in Iceland are now making up their minds on whether or not to run for another term. Both citizens of Iceland, as well as residents of Iceland who have lived in the country for five years or longer, can vote in municipal elections.

In the capital area, the mayors of Kópavogur (Ármann Kr. Ólafsson), Setjarnarnes (Ásgerður Halldórsdóttir), Garðabær (Gunnar Einarsson), and Mosfellsbær (Haraldur Sveinsson), have all announced that they will not be running in the May election. All four have been mayor in their respective municipality for over a decade, signalling a significant change of leadership for the region. Rekjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson announced earlier this month that he would be running for reelection, as will Rósa Guðbjartsdóttir, current mayor of Hafnarfjörður.

Foreign residents of Iceland who do not hold Icelandic citizenship but have lived in the country for five years or longer have the right to vote in municipal elections. Most information on voting requirements will be available as elections approach.

Ninety-Four Ambulance and Six Fire Callouts This Weekend

There were 94 ambulance callouts in the capital area this weekend. Vísir reports that 22 of those were related to COVD-19 and 34 were considered ‘high priority’ calls. No further information was available on the nature of the COVID-19 callouts at time of writing.

In addition, the fire department was called six times this weekend. Five of the calls were related to minor incidences. There was, however, one major fire incident at the Matfugl poultry plant in Mosfellsbær in the early hours of Sunday morning. Firefighters were luckily able to put out the fire quickly and are now investigating the cause.

Herbal Fragrance Library Opens

Nordic Angan, or the Icelandic Herbal Fragrance Library, is now open in the town of Mosfellsbær, just outside of Reykjavík. The library is the brainchild of Elín Hrund Þórgeirsdóttir and Sonja Bent who, per a recent press release, put considerable research and effort into “capturing the sweet scent of Icelandic flora by distilling plants and trees and making essential oils out of them.”

Jonny Devaney

Visitors can walk through interactive fragrance exhibitions and “experience the aroma of Icelandic nature in a fun and unusual way, stimulate their sense of smell, and enjoy nature in an untraditional manner. The collection is the only one of its kind because there’s no other library that focuses solely on the sweet scents of Icelandic nature.”

Guests can also walk through the “Scented Shower,” an installation inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing.’ The installation diffuses scents of the Icelandic forest into the air and allows guests to walk through a cool, aromatic mist of water and essential oils.

Jonny Devaney

The library has received funding from the Technological Development Fund, the Design Fund, and a grant for women entrepreneurs in Iceland and was in development for two years before opening.

The Icelandic Herbal Fragrance Library is located at 27 Álafossvegur in Mosfellsbær and is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12.00-5.00pm. Admission is ISK 1,200 ($8.60/€7.60) per person.

Efling Union and Municipalities Reach Agreement, Ending Strike

Fellaskóli school

A workers’ strike in Iceland that began on March 9, was suspended on March 24, and restarted on May 5, is now finally over. Efling Union and the municipalities of Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Ölfus, and Hveragerði have signed a collective contract that raises the lowest salaries of union members working for the municipalities. The strike affected preschools and primary schools in the municipalities, many of which were required to close when cleaning staff walked off the job.

According to a notice from Efling, the new contract increases base monthly salaries by ISK 90,000 ($613/€566) over the duration of the contract period and shortens the work week. The new contract also raises the lowest salaries “with a special additional payment modelled on Efling’s contract with Reykjavík City.”

Efling workers employed by the six municipalities returned to work today, though the contract remains subject to a vote by members.

Strike postponed due to COVID-19

The workers’ strike in the five municipalities began on March 9, after negotiations between Efling and the municipalities proved unsuccessful. The union’s negotiation committee had postponed strike action during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but announced that the strike would be voted on again after Easter. Efling members voted to resume the strike on May 5. Efling’s main demand was an agreement with benefits comparable to those that had recently been won for the union’s members working for the City of Reykjavík.

“Once again Efling members […] have proven that just and determined struggle of low wage workers through their union is not only our right but also something that achieves results,” stated Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

Efling Workers Resume Strike Next Week, Affecting Schools

Efling strike Reykjavík

Efling Union workers employed by five municipalities in the capital area and South Iceland will resume striking on Tuesday, May 5. The members working for the municipalities of Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Hveragerði, and Ölfus voted overwhelmingly in support of strike action. The union’s negotiation committee postponed strike action during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but announced that the strike would be voted on again after Easter.

“The members of Efling who work for these municipalities demand an agreement with comparable benefits as those found in agreements between Efling and the City of Reykjavik and the government of Iceland,” reads a statement on Efling’s website. Efling members working for the City of Reykjavík reached an agreement with the municipality last month following a three-week strike that affected preschools and welfare services in the capital.

All members of Efling Union working for the five municipalities will stop work indefinitely on Tuesday, May 5, the day after COVID-19 restrictions are loosened and schools return from reduced to regular programming. The strike will affect elementary schools and home services.

Voter turnout among Efling members was high, with 65% of eligible members voting on the strike. A notable 89% voted in favour of a strike in elementary schools and 88% voted in favour of a strike in other workplaces.

“These are incredible results. They show amazing courage, the will to fight and the unity of our members. Low wage workers are going to get the recognition that society cannot function without them. Pandemic or not – The members of Efling will not allow themselves to be forced into submission,” said Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Chairman of Efling.

Negotiations Postponed in Workers’ Strikes

Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

A negotiation meeting between the Efling labour union and municipal leaders in Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Hveragerði, and Ölfus was postponed on Thursday, RÚV reports. The postponement came at the request of municipal negotiations committee chair Inga Rún Ólafsdóttir, who said the committee needed more time to do their homework in advance of the meeting.

See Also: Strikes Outside of Reykjavík Anticipated for Monday

Over 270 Efling workers in the abovementioned municipalities went on strike on Monday, overlapping with a three-week strike of Efling city employees in Reykjavík. While Reykjavík-based municipal employees reached an agreement with the City of Reykjavík on Tuesday, however, negotiations are still underway with workers outside of the capital. The strike has impacted schools in all of the striking municipalities, as well as services in government offices such as the Directorate of Immigration, which is located in Kópavogur.

See Also: Workers’ Strikes Update: One Avoided, One Begins, One Continues

According to the state mediator’s website, the next meeting between Efling and municipal leaders is scheduled for this coming Monday. “We’re waiting and stress that a meeting should be held as soon as possible,” said Efling chair Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir. “In our opinion, it’s unacceptable to go into the weekend without meeting.” Efling negotiators said they understood that people need more time to consider the terms and issues on the table, but is nevertheless pushing for talks to continue on Friday.

Strikes Outside of Reykjavík Anticipated for Monday

An indefinite strike of Efling members in municipalities outside of Reykjavík is set to start on Monday, March 9 at noon, “unless agreements have been signed before that time,” reads an announcement on the Efling website. According to Efling director Viðar Þorsteinsson, however, even though additional meetings between the union and local councils are scheduled for the weekend, there’s no indication that any agreement will be reached in time to prevent Efling members in Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Hveragerði, and Ölfus from joining the ongoing strike action currently underway in Reykjavík, Mbl.is reports.

A sympathy strike among workers in the Federation of Independent Schools in Iceland was also proposed for Monday, but Iceland’s Labour Court deemed the action illegal and Efling has stated that it “accepts the ruling and will not proceed with the strike.”

Just as the ongoing strike action has significantly impacted public services in Reykjavík, so will Monday’s strike significantly impact public services in the soon-to-strike municipalities. An announcement on the Kópavogur website said that the impact of the strike would be particularly felt in elementary schools, where cleaning services, after-school programming, and support for children with special needs will be significantly curtailed.

The Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL), which is also located in Kópavogur, also posted an announcement on its website, saying that services will be reduced and application processing will slow during the strike. The ÚTL office will be closed on March 9 and 10, “as well as other days during which the strike is in progress.” Telephone services will only be available between 9 and 12 with minimum staffing during the strike. ÚTL recommends that those who need to be in touch with their office do so via email, but should also expect slower replies.

Efling met again with City representatives on Friday afternoon, but no agreements were struck and no new meeting has been scheduled. “The ball’s in the City’s court now,” said Viðar.

Update March 9, 2020: BSRB members’ strike actions were called off after agreements were reached last night and this morning. Efling Union members in five municipalities outside Reykjavík began their strike at noon today.

Bus Carrying Tourists Overturns

A bus carrying 23 tourists overturned on Mosfellsheiði heath between the town of Mosfellsbær and Þingvellir National Park in South Iceland on Tuesday afternoon, RÚV reports. Three passengers sustained minor injuries, but as all but one person on board was wearing a seat belt, no serious injuries were incurred.

According to a post on the South Iceland police’s Facebook page, slippery road conditions led to the event. A paramedic who is stationed at Þingvellir was the first on the scene. After he determined that none of the passengers was seriously injured, the priority was to transport them to the service centre Þingvellir to wait while emergency services arrived on the accident scene.

Another bus was sent to pick up the travellers at Þingvellir. All of them intended to resume their trip.