Unhappy with low pay and few benefits, Iceland’s police force now faces a crisis, as the government says it cannot raise their salaries. Some members of the riot squad have already walked, and the police are planning further cuts to parliamentary services.
Police have been in negotiations with the government over a pay raise, at times holding their own demonstrations to bring public attention to their cause. Unfortunately, RÚV reports, Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir has said that the government does not have the funds to raise police salaries.
“They are very important to society and of course we want to see if anything is possible,” she said. “But it is not possible to meet the demands of a pay raise or anything like it in the wake of arbitration. I don’t think it will work. But we will talk to them later.”
The police are not taking the matter lightly. The riot squad in Eyjafjörður has already walked, as they also have in Selfoss, and the riot squads of Suðurnes and Akranes are considering doing the same.
Vísir reports that the “honour guard” – which typically chaperones incoming MPs on the first day of parliament – will not be in service this year. Stefán Eiríksson, the Reykjavík chief of police, said that while security matters at parliament are of the upmost importance, dispensing with the one-day honour guard will save the force money.
Riot control equipment itself is in scarce supply, with almost no money available to equip the police.
The Prime Minister emphasised that a solution will be found. “They are very worried about their own security. They are under a lot of pressure and we will examine various matters related to that. We are first and foremost looking into the difficult situation they find themselves in.”