Efling Union Workers to Vote on Strike

Strike efling hotel workers union

Janitorial staff in Efling Union will vote on strike action starting this Monday. If approved, cleaners in the Reykjavík capital area would strike on March 18. Efling representatives say the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) breached trust in ongoing collective agreement negotiations by reopening salary negotiations with other unions.

Efling is Iceland’s second-largest worker’s union. Efling’s negotiating committee did not attend a meeting at the State Mediator’s office yesterday and are not expected to attend today’s meeting between negotiating parties. Efling representatives assert that SA offered other unions with the Confederation of Labour (ASÍ) higher salary hikes than previously negotiated without consulting with Efling.

Read More: Unions Split on Wage Negotiations

If approved, the strike would involve around 1,000 workers, according to Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, chairperson of Efling.

No Decision on Strikes in Latest Air Traffic Controllers’ Talks

Keflavík Airport

Negotiations between air traffic controllers and Isavia failed to produce an agreement earlier today, RÚV reports. The parties will reconvene at the State Mediator’s office on Friday, with no further strike actions currently planned by air traffic controllers.

Negotiations progressed slowly

A negotiation meeting that took place earlier today between air traffic controllers and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, representing Isavia (the company that operates all public airports in Iceland), did not yield results.

The disputing parties have decided to meet again at the office of the State Mediator on Friday. Arnar Hjálmsson, Chairman of the Air Traffic Controllers Association, told RÚV today that no decisions had been made among air traffic controllers regarding further strike action. 

As previously reported on IR, air traffic controllers previously ceased work for four hours in strike actions over three days before Christmas but postponed the fourth due to the volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations have progressed very slowly.

Air Traffic Controller Strike Aborted Due to Eruption

Reykjanes eruption Iceland eruption

Industrial action by air traffic controllers planned for tomorrow morning will not take place due to the volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula, Association President Arnar Hjálmsson confirmed with Mbl.is. The round of strikes began December 12 and, disrupting morning flights to and from Iceland for airlines Play and Icelandair. The work stoppages continued on December 14 and 18.

The volcanic eruption began shortly before midnight last night, 3 km north of the town of Grindavík.  The eruption has not affected air travel and Keflavík airport remains open, despite its proximity to the site of the eruption.

Flight schedules remain unaffected

According to a press release from Icelandair, the airline’s flight schedule remains unaffected. “The safety of our passengers and staff is always priority number one and all decisions are made with this in mind,” Vísir quotes the release. “We are following the situation closely and will alert passengers in a timely manner if any changes occur to our flight schedule because of the eruption.”

The airline Play has asked passengers to keep a close eye on messages from them regarding possible disruptions. “We do not expect any disruptions to our flight schedule but safety is always our top priority and the situation is being monitored closely by the relevant authorities,” is stated in a notice the airline’s website.

Repeated air traffic controller strikes

Tomorrow’s cancelled action was the last strike planned this year by the Icelandic Air Traffic Controller Association. The collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations have gone very slowly. This has been the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar asserts that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years. The strike makes exceptions for emergency and coast guard flights.

Air Traffic Controllers Continue Strike Actions

Keflavík airport Icelandair

The air traffic controllers of Iceland were on strike today for the third time since last week. Their next strike is scheduled for Wednesday morning. Air traffic controllers’ collective agreement negotiations with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) are at a deadlock. Icelandair’s CEO says continued strikes would increase the likelihood of flight cancellations over the holidays. Iceland’s Parliament may be preparing to step in with legislation to break the strike, according to mbl.is.

Parliament may legislate to break strike

According to mbl.is, the Infrastructure Ministry is preparing a bill to break the strikes, if negotiations remain at a standstill. Minister of Infrastructure Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson did not wish to confirm this, however, when contacted by the outlet. Sigurður Ingi did refer to the responsibility held by the negotiating parties “right before Christmas, following a natural disaster that has cost this society a considerable amount.”

Two unions, the State Flight Staff Association (Félag flugmálastarfsmanna ríkisins) and the Dock Workers Association (Félag hafnarverkamanna), have issued statements in support of Iceland’s air traffic controllers and their right to strike. They underline the right to strike as necessary toward maintaining a just balance of power between workers and employers.

No negotiation meetings scheduled

The collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) have gone very slowly. This is the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar Hjálmsson, president of the Air Traffic Controller Association asserts that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years.

The next strike is scheduled for 4:00 AM-10:00 AM on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, no meetings are on the calendar between the negotiating parties.

 

Air Traffic Controllers to Strike Thursday Amid Failed Talks

A negotiation meeting between Icelandic air traffic controllers and Isavia was called off at 5 PM yesterday without an agreement, Vísir reports. Air traffic controllers will undertake additional strike action on Thursday morning. 

Next meeting on Thursday at 2 PM

A negotiation meeting between the Icelandic Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, representing Isavia (the company that operates all public airports in Iceland), began at 3 PM yesterday. The meeting, which took place at the offices of the State Mediator, concluded two hours later without an agreement being reached, Vísir reports.

The next meeting in the wage dispute is scheduled for Thursday at 2 PM. This means that additional strike action scheduled for the morning of Thursday, December 4, will be implemented.

As reported yesterday, the travel plans of thousands of passengers were disrupted when the first wave of strike actions hit yesterday morning. In addition to the planned strikes on Thursday, similar actions have been announced for Monday and Wednesday of next week.

Commercial airlines Icelandair and Play are now assessing their legal position regarding the issue, stating that the actions of the air traffic controllers have caused significant damage to the companies.

Agreements expired October 1

As noted in an article on IR yesterday, the collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations have progressed very slowly. This is the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar Hjálmsson, president of the Air Traffic Controller Association, has asserted that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years. The strike makes exceptions for emergency and Coast Guard flights.

Flights Delayed as Iceland’s Air Traffic Controllers Strike

Keflavík Airport

Dozens of flights to and from Keflavík and Reykjavík airports have been delayed this morning due to industrial action by the Icelandic Air Traffic Controller Association. The strike ends at 10:00 AM, but will have ripple effects on flights throughout the day as airlines scramble to get passengers to their destinations. Many are expected to miss their connecting flights.

The airline Play has announced the disruption of 19 flights, five of them from North America and fourteen from Iceland to destinations in Europe. The arrivals of North American flights and the departures of European flights have been delayed until the work stoppage ends at 10:00 AM. Icelandair has delayed 12 flights from North America this morning along with most of European flights. In addition, a number of flights have been combined and destinations altered. A flight scheduled for London Gatwick will land at London Heathrow and a flight to Paris will end up in Amsterdam. Planned flights to Zürich and Munich will head to Frankfurt, while a scheduled flight to Stockholm is now destined for Copenhagen.

More work stoppages announced

A second round of work stoppages is expected Thursday morning if a resolution to the labour dispute is not reached before then, with further action taking place next week, according to Mbl.is reporting on the labour dispute. A round of negotiations between air traffic controllers and Isavia, the company that operates all public airports in Iceland, ended last night without an agreement. Al­dís Magnús­dótt­ir, the state mediator in the dispute, says discussions will resume later today. However, the parties are not close to an agreement, according to both Aldís and Arnar Hjálmsson, president of the Air Traffic Controller Association. If the dispute is not resolved, further industrial action will take place on December 14, 18 and 20.

Repeated air traffic controller strikes

The collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations have gone very slowly. This is the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar asserts that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years. The strike makes exceptions for emergency and coast guard flights.

 

Strike to Cause Flight Delays in Iceland

Keflavík airport Icelandair

Air traffic controllers in Iceland will be striking on Tuesday and Thursday morning next week between 4:00 AM and 10:00 AM, affecting Reykjavík and Keflavík Airports. The strikes mean that planes will not be able to land at the airports during these times, which are peak hours at Keflavík. The strike makes exceptions for emergency and coast guard flights.

The collective agreements of air traffic controllers expired on October 1, and their negotiations with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) have gone very slowly, RÚV reports. Airlines are preparing for delays to flights during next week’s strikes in efforts to minimise the disruption to passengers.

This is the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. The chairman of the Air Traffic Controllers Association of Iceland Arnar Hjálmsson asserts that air traffic controllers’ salaries have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years. There are 152 air traffic controllers in Iceland.

In Focus: The 2023 Women’s Strike

women's strike 2023

On October 24, 2023, thousands of people swarmed Arnarhóll hill in downtown Reykjavík, holding protesting signs, babies, and each other’s hands, turning the city centre into a historic spectacle. Iceland’s seventh Women’s Strike (Kvennaverkfall) had a much larger turnout than expected, with the crowd spilling out across Hverfisgata and Lækjargata streets. An estimated 70,000 to […]

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Deep North Episode 49: Women Look to the Future

Arnarhóll hill women's strike 2023

It’s not an exaggeration to call the most recent Women’s Strike historic. With some 70-100,000 women participating, including Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the strike attracted international media attention and injected fresh energy into feminist activism in Iceland. We take a look at our 1986 coverage of Women’s Day Off and consider how far we’ve come, and where we have yet to go.

From the Archive: Women Look to the Future

women's day off iceland

On October 24, 1975, women across Iceland went on strike to demonstrate the importance of their labour, both professional and domestic. Known as kvennafrídagurinn, or Women’s Day Off, some 90% of Icelandic women participated in the labour action. Shortly after, in 1976, Iceland passed its first legislation on gender pay equality, and though little was fixed overnight, it was a step in the right direction. Since the initial 1975 strike, Women’s Day Off has been held several times, with women symbolically leaving work early to demonstrate the still-extant pay gap. As of 2022, the unadjusted gender pay gap in Iceland was 9.1%.

Given the importance of this day, the editorial staff of Iceland Review was surprised to find no coverage of the original 1975 strike in our archives. It was only in 1985, after another 10-year anniversary strike, that the magazine’s editorial team covered the burgeoning women’s rights movement.

If progressive legislation on gender pay equality is still relatively young in Iceland (trailing the US Equal Pay Act of 1963 by more than a decade, for instance), many mindsets and attitudes have likewise only changed in the surprisingly recent past. Norms can change quickly, and although Iceland is often hailed as a beacon of social progress, this history is in many ways still a young one. And while our coverage (or lack thereof) of Women’s Day Off shows that change does sometimes happen overnight, social progress is not something that plays out automatically in history. History is moved when people come together and act, like so many Icelandic women did in 1975.

NB: This archival content first appeared in Iceland Review in 1986. As such, it may not reflect the current editorial standards of Iceland Review.

The meeting was the most unforgettable I have ever taken part in. It convinced me that though a huge meeting of men of the same mind might influence the authorities when women achieve such conviction, the foundations of society creak,” commented Adalheidur Bjarnfredsdottir, union leader and one of three speakers on Iceland’s famous Women’s Day in 1975. On 24th October, Icelandic women staged a one-day stoppage both at home and in the workplace, marking the beginning of the United Nations Decade for Women. Women drew attention to the importance of their work with the largest open-air meeting ever held in Iceland, attended by 25,000 people at Laekjartorg in central Reykjavik.

The clearest single indication of the achievements of the Decade for Women, which has just come to an end, is the election of a woman, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, to the presidency in 1980. Not simply a symbol of national unity and a splendid representative of her country on her travels abroad. President Vigdis presents living proof that women’s campaign for equal rights involves deeds as well as words. Many of her backers during the run-up to the election were men, and she was elected by voters of both sexes – proof that great strides have been taken towards real equality. The individual is no longer judged by sex but for his or her own character.

Marking the end of the Decade for Women, new surveys on the status of women in Iceland have confirmed various established facts, while also revealing that men and women in Iceland have enjoyed equal educational rights since the passing of legislation in 1911. But in spite of eight decades of nominal equality, the roles of men and women still differ greatly, both in education and at work.

Over 90% of student teachers and nurses are women, while only a handful of female students can be found at the Technical College, agricultural colleges, and the Marine College. The last decade has, however, seen women make a strong bid for education, and since 1980 over 40% of graduates from the University of Iceland have been women, as against only 20% in 1975-6. The majority are still graduating with a BA degree in the humanities or with a BSc in nursing, while men dominate the Faculty of Engineering and Science.

women's day off iceland

According to statistics from 1983, women made up 43.5% of the workforce, while their wages were only 29.3% of total income. Married women, 24.8% of the workforce, earned only 16.7% of the total. Although women in unskilled occupations now suffer little pay discrimination, among the university-educated, the gap between men’s and women’s salaries has, if anything, widened, but this factor reflects women’s choice of subject at university level. Women earn only 65% of the national average wage per man-year, which has hardly changed since 1980; this indicates that women predominate in the lowest-paid categories.

In “Women, What Next?,” a book which reviews women’s achievements over the past decade, Marge Thome puts forward the interesting theory that low pay is one of the factors which influences Icelandic women to bear more children (2-3) than the average western European. The wife’s wages make such a relatively insignificant contribution to the household that she feels able to stay at home with her children for several years. In many cases, she has no choice, as only 8.9% of children aged 2 to 5 are provided with full-time day nursery care, and the majority of places are allotted to priority groups such as single parents and students. About 35% of children aged 2 to 5 can attend playschool for half the working day. Childminders are in great demand, as about 80% of Icelandic women go out to work either full- or part-time.

Although President Vigdi’s Finnbogadottir has set a spectacular precedent, Icelandic women in general have a difficult time reaching positions of leadership. In the Althing (parliament), women only hold nine of the sixty seats, and in the seventy years since female suffrage became a reality, only 17 women have been elected to Althing. Two women have held ministerial portfolios, and five have been ministerial under-secretaries.

Women have done better in local politics, and in three districts women hold 40% of council seats; but on the other hand, 50% of local councils include no woman at all, mostly in rural areas. In the past decade, the number of women in managerial positions in the civil service has risen by 7%, and women have become increasingly active in the trade union movement.

Compared with women in general around the world, Icelandic women have a good many advantages. They live to an average age of 80 years – and generally the Icelanders and Japanese lead the world in longevity. This indicates the high standard of health care, which is almost unparalleled, especially with regard to maternity and child health. In the 1960s, preventive health care for women was spotlighted by a mass campaign against cervical cancer, the second most common form of the disease in Icelandic women. The campaign has produced tangible results in the form of a dramatic drop in the incidence of cervical cancer and greatly improved chances of cure. A similar mass screening service is now being introduced for breast cancer.

It was never claimed that women would achieve full equality by the end of the Decade for Women, but surveys show women gaining ground in every field, especially in the arts. The number of women in the Writers’ Association, for instance, has doubled in the past ten years, and women are clearly not resting on their laurels, even though their decade may be over.