From Iceland — More Labour Unions Criticise Prime Minister

More Labour Unions Criticise Prime Minister

Published September 19, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Grapevine Archives

Another labour union group has criticised the proposed 2015 budget, while Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson doubts unions will make good on their threat to walk out over it.

In a new statement from the Húsavík Labour Union Office (Framsýn) entitled “The heart of the government doesn’t beat with working people”, the labour union group harshly criticises the proposed 2015 budget.

“It is obvious that the government has no interest in working with the labour movement in creating a society based on equality,” the statement reads in part. “The labour movement is duty bound and will respond very clearly in the next collective bargaining negotiations with management and with the government.”

Framsýn, comprised of four labour unions representing more than 2,000 workers in the Húsavík and Þingeyjarsýsla area, argues that such measures as cutting back on unemployment benefits and raising taxes on food “attack certain core values ​​that focus on helping individuals to provide for themselves and their dignity.”

The criticisms are very similar to those made by the Icelandic Confederation of Labour Unions (ASÍ), who expressed disappointment with numerous facets of the budget proposal. In particular, they are dissatisfied with the proposed raising of food tax, the shortening of the long-term unemployment benefits period, and the many proposed cuts to or neglect of areas of the social welfare system, such as health care, education and housing.

“[The Central Committee] believes there is no basis for continued cooperation with the government if the budget bill becomes law,” their statement read in part, saying that the budget was tantamount to “an attack on working people”.

Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has expressed bewilderment with the criticism, telling members of parliament that it surprised him and “came out of nowhere”.

Today, Vísir reports, the Prime Minister also expressed doubts that ASÍ would make good on its threat to walk away from working with the government if the budget passed unchanged.

“I doubt that [ASÍ president] Gylfi [Arnbjörnsson] believes that it would serve his clients to quit all this extensive consultation that is going on with the government,” he said.

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