From Iceland — More Unions Reject New Collective Bargaining Agreement

More Unions Reject New Collective Bargaining Agreement

Published December 23, 2013

More labour unions have joined the chorus of those who believe the new collective bargaining agreement does not do enough to raise wages for the lowest paid in Iceland.
Last Saturday, as reported, the Confederation of Icelandic Labour Unions (ASÍ) and the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA) signed a new collective bargaining agreement. 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 than this, as well as tax relief for minimum wage earners, was rejected by management.
However, Vísir reports, the new agreement actually does more for higher income earners than for working class people. By the new agreement, a person making 246,000 ISK per month will see 8,000 ISK more per month, before taxes, and no rebates on their taxes. At the same time, another person making 1 million ISK per month will get an extra 28,000 ISK per month, plus 3,500 ISK taken off their monthly taxes.
Vilhjálmur Birgisson, the chairperson of the Akranes Trade Union (VLFA), rejected the new agreement, and told reporters yesterday, “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.”
More unions have now joined the chorus of criticism. The unions Drífandi, Framsýn, Báran and the Grindavík Union have all expressed their disappointment with the new contract, and say they will not sign such an agreement in its current form.
Framsýn chairperson Aðalsteinn Baldursson went so far as to call the new agreement “a scandal”, saying that the contract does nothing for low-wage earners. “This is shameful,” he said. “This rise is beneath everything that can be offered our people, and [the contract] actually ensures that high-wage earners who get a million or two each month have a fine rise, while our people are left behind, as has happened many times before.”

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