The old Westman islands ferry Herjólfur III will make four trips between the islands and the mainland today despite a strike among workers in the Seamen’s Union of Iceland (Sjómannafélag Íslands). RÚV reports that workers in other unions will be operating the ship. Guðbjartur Ellert Jónsson, CEO of Herjólfur ohf. asserts the move is not strike-breaking.
“We decided to sail the old Herjólfur for four trips today to meet the responsibility and obligation we have to keep this national route open. We manned it with our employees who are not members of Sjómannafélag Íslands,” Guðbjartur stated. The new Herjólfur ferry is undergoing repairs in the meantime.
Herjólfur’s workers began strike action last week, with a one-day strike that suspended ferry service. A three-day strike is scheduled for next week if the wage dispute is not resolved. Both parties in the dispute say there is no basis for scheduling further negotiations at the moment.
Strike Action Affecting Tourism On Island
Magnús Bragason, who operates Hótel Vestmannaeyjar told RÚV that the strike action is causing a slew of cancellations. “[J]une and July looked really good and we were fully booked in the coming days. Today and tomorrow most rooms have been cancelled and cancellations have started coming for next week. So this does us a lot of harm,” Magnús stated. Magnús fears the strike will damage the islands’ reputation as an attractive tourist destination. “We had a campaign called Westman Islands – a good idea. I don’t know how much of a good idea they are today.”