From Iceland — Teachers Strike Begins

Teachers Strike Begins

Published March 20, 2014

Secondary school teachers began their strike today, and whilst some students are directing their frustrations at the government, the Education Minister has been reticent on the labour conflict.

As reported, the Icelandic Teachers’ Union (KÍ) has said they are angry that they have even had to resort to a strike in the conflict, as their demands were simply to have their wages develop in conjunction with wages from comparable professions. After weeks of negotiations without the state offering any significant counteroffer, the strike began at midnight today.

Many students that members of the press have spoken with have expressed support for the teachers. At Menntaskólan í Reykajvík (MR), Vísir reports, some students showed up for school anyway, to utilise resources such as the library and textbooks for their studies.

Árný Jóhannesdóttir, a 19-year-old student at MR, was asked how she feels about the labour dispute and responded, “I understand the teachers very well. I am more unhappy with the government than the teachers because this is an unacceptable wage.”

Karen Björk Eyþórsdóttir, student council director for Menntaskólan við Hamrahlíð (MH), expressed much the same sentiment with DV, saying, “I support that secondary school teachers 190% in this action and I believe most others feel the same way. Our anger is focused on the government; not the teachers.”

Indeed, Minister of Education Illugi Gunnarsson has been mostly absent from the media regarding the teachers’ strike. Last week, he told parliament that “everything will be tried in the coming days to find a solution to this difficult problem”, but would not comment on the matter further than that.

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