From Iceland — Collective Bargaining Agreement Reached, Many Unions Disappointed

Collective Bargaining Agreement Reached, Many Unions Disappointed

Published December 22, 2013

While a new collective bargaining agreement between many of Iceland’s labour unions and management was signed yesterday, many other unions believe the agreement does not do enough for Iceland’s workforce.
Vísir reports that yesterday, officials from the Confederation of Icelandic Labour Unions (ASÍ) and the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA) signed a new collective bargaining agreement, only weeks away from the current one expiring.
Wage increases have been a hotly contested part of these negotiations, and the new agreement calls for a 5% wage increase for those making the lowest wages, and a 2.8% increase for everyone else. Union proposals for higher wages, as well as tax relief for minimum wage earners, was rejected by management.
The agreement is more than just a mild disappointment to Vilhjálmur Birgisson, the chairperson of the Akranes Trade Union (VLFA).
“We need to realize that … there are fishing corporations who have been making money like there’s no tomorrow. It is evident that the total profits from Icelandic fishing corporations are around 80 billion ISK per year. To my mind, it is shameful that the salaries of working people hasn’t been corrected more than we’ve seen.”
Vilhjálmur says that there are four or five unions within the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS) who intend to refuse to sign the new agreement, saying that it increases the gap between classes in Iceland, and that it is out of the question to sign such an agreement.
“The matter is simple,” Vilhjálmur said. “I want to fight.”

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