A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Eruption Pollution Likely To Hit Whole Country

Icelandic Competition Authority Concerned Over Bank Operation

Published February 7, 2013

The Icelandic Competition Authority has expressed concern over the lack of competitive operation policies among the country’s three big banks, Landsbanki, Íslandsbanki, and Arion Banki. According to a new report released by the Icelandic Competition Authority, titled “Fjármálaþjónusta á krossgötum” (PDF link) this is resulting in clients paying higher rates and receiving unfavourable terms in order to cover the banks’ ever-increasing operating expenses.
The report reveals that the operating costs of the banks have been increasing significantly year-over-year since the crash, as the public focused their post-crash attention on loan re-evaluation, which increased the banks profits more than had been expected, RÚV reports.
Wages for bank employees have been steadily increasing since the crash, at a far greater rate than employees in other sectors have been experiencing. Such expenses increased by 15% between 2009 and 2010 in the banking sector, while a comparison made with the increased wages of 26,000 firms in other sectors show an average wage increase of just 6% over the same period. Moreover, on an international scale, the operating expenses of Icelandic banks is considered high, accounting for 2.3% of bank assets, in comparison to the operating costs of small Nordic banks and larger European banks claiming 0.6 – 1.5% of assets going toward operating expenses.


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Firings At The Directorate Of Labour

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Government-sanctioned budget cuts have forced the Directorate of Labour to let go of some of their employees and cut back on services to the unemployed. “We are struggling with a demand to reduce operational costs by about 100 million [ISK],” Gissur Pétursson, the director of the Directorate, told RÚV. “There is no other choice. We cannot conduct interviews and counseling like we would otherwise want to.” 20 employees have already been let go, operating hours have been shortened, and the service office has been closed. Gissur could not comment on the exact number of employees who will be let go

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Signs Gender Wage Gap Is Growing

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The Union of Public Servants (SFR) has released a salary poll that shows the gender wage gap within their ranks is growing. Vísir reports that the unadjusted wage difference between men and women doing the same work within SFR is 21%. Men in SFR make, on average, 469,885 ISK per month, while women doing the same work make 369,446 ISK. This was detemined by a Capacent Gallup poll conducted for SFR. When these figures are adjusted for other factors that have an effect on salaries, the gender wage gap not only still remains, at 10%, it is also increasing. Last

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35 Nations Exhort Iceland To End Whaling

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All 28 European Union member states and seven other countries have delivered a demarche to the Icelandic government to end the practice of whaling. In a statement from the European Commission, they confirm that “The EU, its 28 Member States and the governments of the United States, Australia, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, Mexico and Monaco, today declared their opposition to the fact that the Icelandic government still permits commercial whaling, in particular the hunting of fin whales and the subsequent trading of fin whale products.” The Icelandic government has received the demarche (see below), which was delivered by the EU’s

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Eruption Pollution Likely To Hit Whole Country

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If Holuhraun continues erupting it is likely the whole country will be effected by poisonous SO2 levels, reports RÚV. “[If the eruption continues] we can expect strong levels of SO2, especially to the northwest,” said Þorsteinn Jóhannsson, a specialist working with air pollution at the Environment Agency of Iceland. “And presumably, the direction of the wind will change at some point and then we can expect it all over the country.” RÚV reports that SO2 pollution measured 1,250 micrograms per cubic meter in Reykjahlíð near Lake Mývatn last night. The maximum safety limit for SO2 is 600 micrograms per cubic meter. Several

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Potato Harvest So-So, Summer’s Fault

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Harvest is upon Reykjavík’s allotment gardens and unfortunately for potato salad enthusiasts city-wide, the yield was not great. RÚV reports that aggressive rain during the summer months flooded many allotments, including Vigfús Karlsson’s. Vigfús, who enjoys growing cabbage, carrots as well as potatoes in his allotment,  told RÚV that his crop was quite sluggish. “And that’s not fun,” Vigfús said. Roughly 800 allotments were rented out to the public in Reykjavík and Mosfellsbær this summer and some were luckier than others. Hreiðar Sigmarsson was one of the lucky few with an excellent harvest. His allotment in Grafarvogur yielded plenty of red and

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Progressive Wrong About Peace Tower

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A Progressive city councilperson has questioned the cost of maintaining Yoko Ono’s Peace Tower, and was apparently misinformed about how the Peace Fund is used. RÚV reports that Progressive city councilperson Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir has submitted a formal request to City Hall to know how much money it costs the city to maintain the Peace Tower. Speaking to reporters, Sveinbjörg said she had nothing against the Peace Tower itself; she simply wanted to know the operational costs for a work of art. Furthermore, she added that she found it strange that former Mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr should receive money

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