From Iceland — Workers Overwhelmingly Approve General Strike

Workers Overwhelmingly Approve General Strike

Published April 21, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Some 10,000 workers will go on strike for an increase in the minimum wage, as nearly 95% of them approved the action.

Kjarninn reports that workers within the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS) have voted in favour of beginning a series of work stoppages next week, culminating in a general strike on May 26. Voter turn-out was just over 50%, but 94.6% of those voted in favour of the measure.

The proportion of workers voting is significantly higher than worker voter participation has been in the recent past, SGS chairperson Björn Snæbjörnsson told reporters, especially those working in the fishing industry. This may have been due to recent news that the board of one of Iceland’s largest fishing corporations, HB Grandi, planned to award itself billions in bonuses, while offering their own workers free popsicles.

About 10,000 workers are expected to take part, a great many of them 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.

As reported, SGS has already announced that they are prepared to strike if management does not agree to their key demand, which is to raise the minimum wage for their workers to 300,000 ISK per month over the next three years.

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.

The schedule of work stoppages and the general strike is as follows:

April 30: Work stoppage from noon until midnight.
May 6 and 7: Work stoppages from midnight until midnight.
May 19 and 20: Work stoppages from midnight until midnight.
May 26: General strike begins at midnight.

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