Public Workers Strike Begins - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Public Workers Strike Begins

Published October 16, 2015

Photos by
Gabríel Benjamin

The Union of Public Servants (SFR) and the Paramedics Society of Iceland (SLFÍ) have begun their strikes, affecting services across the country. Police will also be largely absent from active duty today, except for emergency and other urgent services.

Some 3,600 workers will be off the job today, as collective bargaining negotiations between labour and management have yet to reach an agreement. The services affected are widespread, as can be seen on SFR’s post about the strike. SFR workers within the following offices will be on an indefinite strike, which started at midnight last night:

The National University Hospital of Iceland
Directorate of Internal Revenue
Directorate of Customs
Sýslumaðurinn á Aursturlandi
Sýslumaðurinn á höfuðborgarsvæðinu
Sýslumaðurinn á Norðurlandi eystra Sýslumaðurinn á Norðurlandi vestra
Sýslumaðurinn á Suðurlandi
Sýslumaðurinn á Suðurnesjum
Sýslumaðurinn á Vestfjörðum
Sýslumaðurinn í Vestmannaeyjum
Sýslumaðurinn á Vesturlandi

All paramedics and related medical care workers within SLFÍ will also be striking, beginning with work stoppages through October and November, and ending in an indefinite strike if no agreement is reached by November 16. These stoppages, and the potential strike, will affect the National University Hospital of Iceland, as well as the health clinics of East Iceland and Suðurnes.

RÚV reports that the matter is receiving government attention. Social Democrat MP Katrín Júlíusdóttir pointed out in parliament yesterday that this marks the third strike within the health care industry this year alone. Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson responded by expressing concern for the lack of health services available during these strikes, calling the situation “miserable”.

At the same time, capital area police have posted on their Facebook page that, due to a great deal of police “calling in sick”, their presence will be largely absent from the public eye today. At the same time, they offer assurances that they will still be performing emergency and other crucial services, but ask for people to show patience.

Police have lacked the right to strike since 1986, and are seeking to have it again. However, RÚV reports that Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal is against the idea, but believes their collective bargaining demands should be given greater consideration in lieu of giving them the right to strike.

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