The decision, made on election day itself by the Wage Committee, will raise the salaries of the Prime Minister and the President by about half a million ISK, while members of parliament will see a 44% pay rise. These rises are to go into effect immediately, but have already been met with considerable criticism.
According to the ruling, the monthly salary of the President of Iceland has gone from 2.5 million ISK to 2.985 million ISK, while the Prime Minister’s monthly salary went from 1.5 million ISK to just over 2 million ISK. Members of parliament got rises as well, and will now be paid just over 1.1 million ISK per month; 2 million ISK if they are ministers.
The timing of the decision and the announcement drew considerable criticism from the general public, not to mention the fact that the half million ISK difference in previous and current salaries is actually higher than the entire monthly salary of a minimum wage worker in most trades in Iceland.
Sigurður Bessason, chairperson of Efling, one of the largest trade unions in the country, told RÚV that the decision “goes against the stability that people have been trying to build up in this country.” Reykjavík mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson chimed in on Facebook, encouraging those affected by the rise to decline the extra money.
For her part, Pirate MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir has said that she intends to decline the rise, criticising the Wage Committee itself as being an unelected body of appointees who are put in place for “political reasons”. In fact, Stundin points out that the chair and the vice chair of the committee, Jónas Þór Guðmundsson and Óskar Bergsson, where active members of the Independence Party and the Progressive Party, respectively. RÚV reports that numerous other politicians, on the parliamentary and municipal level, have spoken out against the pay rise.
A petition started just this morning calling for the closure of the Wage Committee has already received over 2,200 signatures at the time of this writing.