From Iceland — Voting Begins On Work Stoppage In Iceland

Voting Begins On Work Stoppage In Iceland

Published February 25, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Þórunn Hafstað

Voting began today on a one-day work stoppage for workers in the Efling labour union, with votes cast both online and by a vehicle visiting workplaces.

As reported, Efling plans on holding a one-day work stoppage on March 8, which will “apply to cleaning, housekeeping and laundry services for rooms and other sleeping accommodation and connected areas and services … in all hotels and guesthouses in the area which Efling has jurisdiction over”. This jurisdiction covers a wide area, including “Reykjavík, Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Kjós, Grímsnes og Grafningshreppur, Hveragerði, Ölfus County, and additionally Hafnarfjörður and Garðabær.”

This naturally requires workers within that union to vote in favour of it, and in a statement sent to the press, Efling has announced that voting began at 10:00 today. This voting can be done either online, or through a special vehicle which will be visiting numerous workplaces that employ Efling workers in the days to come.

Voting will continue through the week, and conclude at 22:00 on February 28. Online voting can be done via the banner link at the top of the main site (also available in English and Polish). Anyone working under the collective bargaining agreement for restaurants and hotels is eligible.

If voted into approval, the work stoppage will begin at 10:00 on March 8 and last until 23:59 of the same day.

That said, the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA), which represents management, has issued a statement whereby their interpretation of the law on work stoppages is that they are only supposed to apply to a select group of workers, with voting done only at those workplaces who are a part of it. Management has threatened to take the union to court if they proceed with the vote and the work stoppage as scheduled.

In response, Efling managing director Viðar Þorsteinsson told Vísir that the union expected this response from management, and their lawyers were already prepared. He contends that SA’s interpretation of the law is too narrow, that the voting is perfectly legal, and that the operation is moving forward, in keeping with the established democratic rights of workers.

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