Editorial: We Salute You, Foreign Workers Of Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Editorial: We Salute You, Foreign Workers Of Iceland

Editorial: We Salute You, Foreign Workers Of Iceland

Valur Grettisson
Words by
Main photo by
Art Bicnick

Published March 5, 2018

Let’s be honest about this; the unions in Iceland are broken. One of the biggest unions of them all, Efling, which has 28,000 workers, has rarely been on strike since it was formed. It isn’t because the workers of Iceland have such brilliantly high salaries, and are busy sipping champagne and grilling lobsters at night. And it’s definitely not because the board of Efling have mastered the “art of the deal.”

It’s because unions in Iceland have fallen asleep and forgotten their purpose. Of course, striking is a last resort, and I’m probably oversimplifying things here. But nonetheless, Fréttablaðið reported in the end of February that 26 top executives in the banks of Iceland together earn more than one billion ISK per year, while management says that they can’t raise the salaries of those with the lowest income.

Well, something is rotten, right?

About half of workers in Efling are foreign. They’re the ones that you see working late at night in a snowstorm, building some godforsaken house. I see these workers myself everyday from the window of my living room. They start working before I wake up, and they are still working while I am making dinner for my children. They’re keeping our economy going, and building Iceland’s future.

But times are changing. Now we have three non-Icelandic individuals who want to become the members of the board of the Efling union. These candidates are Anna Marjankowska, Jamie McQuilkin and Magdalena Kwiatkowska. They are the trailblazers. You can read an in-depth interview with them on Page 12. And if you are a foreign worker and reading this; Grapevine salutes you, and encourages you to vote in the election for the board of Efling. 


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