From Iceland — Teachers, Municipalities Sign Collective Bargaining Agreement

Teachers, Municipalities Sign Collective Bargaining Agreement

Published November 30, 2016

Photo by
Julia Staples

A labour dispute which has been ongoing since last spring has finally come to a close, avoiding another walk-out and massive resignations from Iceland’s primary school teachers.

RÚV reports that the agreement was signed at 18:15 last night, avoiding a walk-out that was scheduled for 12:30 today.

Although the agreement was signed, it still requires a vote of approval from the teachers themselves. RÚV reports that the new deal includes an 11% pay rise, which one teachers’ representative, Ragnar Þór Pétursson, likened to “putting lipstick on a pig”. He was not particularly optimistic that the teachers would ultimately vote in favour of the contract.

As reported, teachers have been working without an active collective bargaining agreement since last spring, and the Wage Committee announcing massive pay rises for government ministers and the president late last month pushed teachers to the breaking point.

In the wake of teachers’ grievances, parents sent letters to City Hall, asking municipal authorities to abide the demands of the teachers and offer a better agreement proposal.

Further, even students got involved. Vísir reports that primary school students across the country planned events to show their support for their teachers – as they have done in the past.

Numerous other collective bargaining struggles are expected in the coming year, and these disputes could get heated, as unions are already increasing their strike funds in preparation.

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