Crisis Averted: Merchant Ship Workers Sign Agreement - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Crisis Averted: Merchant Ship Workers Sign Agreement

Published February 2, 2016

Photos by
Juli Vol

A collective bargaining agreement signed late last night has averted an impending strike, which was to begin at midnight last night.

Vísir reports that unions representing ship engineers and captains have reached an agreement with shipping companies Samskip and Eimskip. The agreement, which was signed at about 3:00 this morning, will still need to be approved by workers within those unions.

If approved, it will provide workers with new terms, which they have been needing since last summer. If, however, workers vote against the agreement, the strike is to commence on February 12.

As reported, should a strike happen, this could have a dramatic effect on imports to Iceland, on which the country depends for practically every aspect of life.

“There’s nothing we can see on the table that would relieve the situation,” Guðmundur Ragnarsson, the chairperson of the Society of Engineers labour union, told reporters yesterday, before an agreement was reached. “It’s my opinion, going by the way the situation is now and the countless meetings we’ve had, that there’s nothing else coming up but a strike.”

If a strike commences, about a hundred workers are expected to walk off the job. This would effectively halt the offloading of five Eimskip ships and two Samskip ships. The most likely products to be effected by the would be fresh fruits and vegetables, leading to a food shortage in the country.

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