From Iceland — Uncertainty Ahead Over Collective Bargaining Agreement

Uncertainty Ahead Over Collective Bargaining Agreement

Published January 23, 2014

Photo by
Maria Alva Roff

Whilst most labour unions rejected a collective bargaining agreement made between the Icelandic Confederation of Labour Unions (ASÍ) and the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA), there is a significant rift between the unions who voted Yes and No.
As reported, 17 labour unions have rejected agreement, while 14 voted to accept it. According to ASÍ’s count, voter turn-out was very low – at an average of around 25%.
Furthermore, most traditionally blue collar workers – amongst them, electricians, steel workers, and general labourers – tended to overwhelming reject the deal. However, more white collar unions – such as the commercial and office workers’ union VR – tended to vote in favour of the agreement.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, SA voted in favour of the agreement by a margin of 98.3%.
ASÍ president Gylfi Arnbjörnsson told MBL that the ball is now in the government’s court. At the same time, SA managing director Þorsteinn Víglundsson stood by his organisation’s position that there is no room for raising the wages of the lowest income earners in the country.
As reported, the agreement struck between ASÍ and SA 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.
In addition, 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.
Whether the next step will be a new agreement, a massive strike, or something else entirely still remains to be seen. The Icelandic government has not yet officially responded to crisis.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!


Show Me More!