Icelandic Union Members Vote In Favour Of Work Stoppage, Strikes Pending - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelandic Union Members Vote In Favour Of Work Stoppage, Strikes Pending

Published March 1, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Þórunn Hafstað

Participating members of the labour union Efling voted overwhelmingly in favour of a one-day work stoppage, and more strikes are in the works.

As announced on Facebook, out of 862 votes cast, 769 voted in favour of a one-day work stoppage on March 8. A total of 7,950 people were on the voter registry, making the voter participation just under 11%.

This stoppage 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,” according to an earlier statement from Efling. This jurisdiction covers a wide area, including “Reykjavík, Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Kjós, Grímsnes og Grafningshreppur, Hveragerði, Ölfus County, and additionally Hafnarfjörður and Garðabær.”

These workers are amongst the lowest-paid workers in Iceland, and Efling has been fighting for a wage increase that they consider long overdue. While some hotel owners have contended that they do not have the money to raise salaries, publicly available information on the finances of these companies have shown profits and holdings in the billions of ISK.

More strikes are very likely. As Efling has also announced, another vote will be held on more stoppages to come between now and the end of April. After that time, an indefinite strike will begin, fittingly enough on May 1. Voting on these actions should begin on Monday.

Efling are not alone in this, either. In a statement from the labour union VR, they announce that they will soon vote to initiate a strike of tour bus drivers in late March and early April, lasting some non-consecutive 15 days. They will also hold a longer last strike on May 1.

All this, of course, is pending approval from the workers involved. The work stoppages and strikes could also be averted if management agrees to the unions’ proposals in collective bargaining.

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