From Iceland — What The News?! Don’t Tase Me, Bro, Let’s Negotiate

What The News?! Don’t Tase Me, Bro, Let’s Negotiate

Published February 16, 2023

What The News?! Don’t Tase Me, Bro, Let’s Negotiate
Photo by
Various news outlets/ Grapevine Graphics Dept.

Negotiations are stalling

Diving right in, ongoing wage negotiations between labour union Efling and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) can best be characterised as feisty, with the former threatening at every twist and turn to have its members — which form the backbone of the nation’s tourism industry — go on strike.

In fact, SA has called Efling’s demands “unworkable,” while state mediator Aðalsteinn Leifsson said of the negotiations, “in this dispute I see no solution,” Heimildin reports.

It would seem that Efling has been offered a contract on the same terms and conditions that a number of other unions negotiating with SA agreed to in 2022, but Efling — led by media darling Solveig Anna Jónsdóttir — is asking for a slightly greater wage increase so her union’s members aren’t seeing the entire pay bump eaten up by Iceland’s astronomical inflation.

Adding to the drama, Aðalsteinn technically has the authority to present the contract proposal directly to Efling members, even if the union’s negotiating committee isn’t on board with it. Not having any of that, Efling is refusing to hand over its membership list. So long as that membership list remains in Efling’s hands, members can’t be sent any proposal on which to vote.

That move by the union appears to have the support of the the federation of public worker unions and the teachers union, who said in a joint statement: “Disarming a union of its strike weapon is a serious action and a major state intervention. When a mediation proposal is used, it affects not only the union in question, but all other unions in the country and can create a dangerous precedent. Based on the circumstances and the information currently available, we make serious comments on the decision of the state mediator to submit a mediation proposal at this point.”

While all that bickering has been going on, the 300 Efling members of the Íslandshótel chain of hotels voted Jan. 30 to go on strike, and the union said more strike action is in the works. Íslandshótel employees will walk off the job Feb. 7 if a solution to the current stalemate isn’t found before then.

Police are packing

After so many attempts by right-leaning members of government to put weapons in the hands of Reykjavík police officer that we’ve lost count, it looks like it’s actually going to happen. Justice Minister Jón Gunnarsson announced in January that he is taking steps toward arming police officers with Tasers, saying cops in the capital could be armed in the next six months.

Of his efforts to get police packing, Jón said in Jan. 2022, “Our police are people just like us and have families. It is natural that there might be some fear amongst police officers when they are dispatched to a difficult call. We are examining whether it would be natural to take a middle stance and take up tasers, which has a great deal of experience around the world, amongst other places in neighbouring countries.”

He also pointed out that cops currently carry pepper spray and clubs, and clubs can cause serious physical injury, but tasers might help prevent that. We’re of the mind that it’s not the clubs causing injury, but the people wielding them. So who’s going to be wielding the Tasers?

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