A general strike could be on the horizon as talks between Iceland’s unions, management and government remain at an impasse.
Every year, representatives of labour, management and the government meet to draw up a general labour contract for the entire country. RÚV reports that the Confederation of Icelandic Labour Unions (ASÍ) has grown tired of what they perceive as a lack of willingness from the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA) and the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍÚ) to arrive at a compromise.
SA and LÍÚ have both said that they will not sign any general contract without a number of changes made to existing fishing regulations. Guðmundur Gunnarsson, the chairman of the Union of Icelandic Electrical Workers, expressed his frustration with the impasse, saying that LÍÚ should leave the negotiations table, and that he is “long tired of being the sucker” for LÍÚ. ASÍ chairman Gylfi Arnbjörnsson seconded these remarks, saying that the collective bargaining agreement has been “taken hostage” by the fishermen.
Negotiations have been spinning their wheels for about six months now, with most of the controversy revolving around fishing matters. As such, Gylfi told reporters that the time had come to take other methods of negotiation into consideration. When asked if by this he meant a general strike, Gylfi said “unfortunately so,” adding that when management is unwilling to budge over a collective bargaining agreement, labour is left with little choice.
When and if a general strike will occur is still uncertain, but by all accounts, strikes are seldom good publicity for unions but are sometimes unavoidable.