Iceland's Seamen Start Their Strike Tonight - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s Seamen Start Their Strike Tonight

Published December 14, 2016

Photos by
Art Bicnick

Several seamen unions will go on strike at 20:00 tonight, having overwhelmingly rejected a collective bargaining agreement struck between union leaders and fishing industry giants. Iceland’s seamen have been working without a valid contract since 2011.

Vísir reports that 76% of voting seamen rejected the draft of the collective bargaining agreement brought to workers. As such, four seamen’s unions – two of them regional, two of them national – will officially begin their strike at 20:00 tonight.

As reported, the vast majority of unionised seamen voted in favour of going on strike last month. The length of the strike is indefinite, putting the onus on collective bargaining or state arbitration to resolve the matter.

One of the more contentious parts of the labour dispute is the fact that management of Iceland’s major fisheries intend to offset added government fees by taking the needed funds directly from catch values. This essentially moves money away from the seamen and into the hands of management, to help cover costs that they need to pay for.

Fishing accounts for about 8% of Iceland’s GDP, and is one of the pillars of the economy. As such, management only has about three weeks to offer seamen a satisfactory contract before the strike begins.

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