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.