From Iceland — Mass Strike Possible Next Month

Mass Strike Possible Next Month

Published March 17, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Alda Kravec

The Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS) will begin a massive strike next month if the base salary is not raised to 300,000 ISK per month. SGS encompasses some 19 trade unions, 16 of whom could be on board to walk.

As many collective bargaining agreements have already run out, negotiations between labour and management are currently in the works. There appears to be a growing divide between workers’ demands and what management is willing to offer, however, as SGS has announced that they are prepared to strike on April 10 if their main demand – that the base salary for a worker in SGS be raised to 300,000 ISK per month – is not met.

“We are completely serious about the demands we have put forward,” said SGS chairperson Björn Snæbjörnsson. “But of course we hope it will be possible to avoid a strike.”

Currently, the base salary of an SGS worker is 201,317 ISK, raising to 214,000 after four months’ work. Most workers will not see more than 222,030 per month after seven years on the job. SGS wants to see that base salary brought up to 300,000 ISK per month within three years.

Voting on whether or not to strike will be conducted from 8:00 on March 23 until midnight, March 30. The results will be made public March 31.

In all, some 50,000 workers comprise SGS, hailing from many different fields and industries. Of the 16 trade unions who would go on strike if the vote passes, a great many of them are made of general laborers, but 42% work in wholesale food service (slaughterhouses, fish factories and the like), and 32% work in the tourist industry and cleaning services.

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