Icelandic Hotel Says "Little Room" For Pay Rises, Has Profits In The Millions - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelandic Hotel Says “Little Room” For Pay Rises, Has Profits In The Millions

Published February 26, 2019

Andie Fontaine

The managing director of Íslandshótel says there is little room for wage rises, but the company’s profits are reportedly in the hundreds of millions.

Davíð Torfi Ólafsson, the managing director of Íslandshótel, expressed with RÚV his frustrations with the current labour movement and its demands, especially a one-day work stoppage that, if union workers vote in favour, will affect numerous capital area hotels.

Amongst union demands is to increase the salary of Iceland’s lowest paid workers from 300,000 ISK per month before taxes to 425,000 ISK.

“Do I want to pay my people a higher salary?,” Davíð asked reporters rhetorically. “Yes. Do I want to pay the people the salary that the labour demands are putting forward? Yes, I would very much like to. But the flexibility is not there.” When asked how he felt about the current lowest salary, he replied, “That isn’t a high salary, that’s right. This is just the reality we’re dealing with. I would love to raise this a lot more but with all the cards on the table, we have to look at the big picture.”

Íslandhótel’s earnings are a matter of public record. As Fréttablaðið reported in May 2018, the company’s earnings after costs the year previous were 401 million ISK, with 15.2 billion ISK in owned cash and 37.8 billion ISK in holdings.

In related hotel news, some hotels are reportedly putting the pressure on their employees when it comes to a workers vote on a possible strike.

“People are given direct and indirect messages that there will be consequences if you’re affiliated with the union,” Maxim Baru, the head of the organising department at Efling says. “People are told directly that they shouldn’t go to the union. The human resources divisions of many of these companies have the view that the staff are theirs – and that the union representatives should serve at their leisure, rather than with their coworkers and the union.”

All that being the case, one bright spot in the story is it appears even some of Iceland’s tourists are showing solidarity with Iceland’s hotel workers, as evidenced in this Facebook post.

“A driver-guide just came into the office of Efling with a message of support,” the post reads. “A woman from Milwaukee heard about the current negotiations and supported our strike fund by twenty dollars!”

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