From Iceland — Rumblings Of Dissent In Independence Party Over Equal Pay Bill

Rumblings Of Dissent In Independence Party Over Equal Pay Bill

Published April 6, 2017

Nanna Árnadóttir
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Rumblings of opposition to Iceland’s progressive new equal pay bill are rumoured in the Independence Party, reports RÚV.

Independence Party MP, Óli Björn Kárason, chairman of the Economic Affairs and Trade Committee said that he made known his dissatisfaction when the bill was first drawn up and that he will oppose the bill when the time comes to vote.

“I think the bill goes too far,” said Óli Björn. “There are oppressive clauses in there that aren’t necessary. We already have laws ensuring equality between the sexes, laws that make it punishable and criminal to discriminate against people based on their gender, laws that result in fines or more severe punishment. Our constitution also very clearly guarantees equality.”

The bill in question would require public and private businesses of a certain size (25 or more employees) to prove they offer equal pay to employees by filing an annual equal pay certification. Should the bill pass, it will take effect from January 2018.

Despite being a leader of gender equality in global rankings, Iceland has made little headway with closing the gender pay gap and the new law aims to fix it.

“The gender pay gap is unfortunately a fact in the Icelandic labour market and it’s time take radical measures; we have the knowledge and the processes to eliminate it,” Minister of Social Affairs and Equality, Þorsteinn Víglundsson told the Guardian. “In regard to annual financial statements, there are fines if documents are not delivered, and I can see the same applying to an equal-pay certification that has not been implemented, since it will be an obligation.”

Þorsteinn admitted that the law was “burdensome”, setting new obligations on Iceland’s economy and businesses, but said, “the benefits are at the same time obvious.”

Support for the bill spans all parties –  nearly 50% of lawmakers in Icelandic parliament are women – but even so rumblings of dissent have been reported and sources have told RÚV that a number of MP’s are dissatisfied with the law, including Independence MP Brynjar Níelsson, also a member of the Economic Affairs and Trade Committee.

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