From Iceland — VIDEO: Striking Icelandic Union Gets Solidarity Statements From Unions Around The World

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Efling, the labour union leading a one-day work stoppage today of hotel and guesthouse housekeeping staff, has received solidarity statements from unions in Europe and North America.

Copies of these solidarity statements were released to the media from Efling this morning. Amongst them are statements from Hotell- och restaurangfacket (HRF) in Sweden; United Here, a North American hotel workers union; and the IUF, a Swiss labour union that also comprises hotel and restaurant workers.

“It is extremely important that we feel the support from our comrades overseas, and it puts wind under our wings,” Efling chair Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir says. “We march excited and full of anticipation into the day, and thank everyone for the statements of support.”

Hotel workers are often paid the bare legal minimum for their trade, and while management has contended they have no room for pay rises, their profits, free cash and holdings total in the billions.

The IUF has echoed sentiments very similar to the Icelandic discussion, stating in part: “We are very concerned about the reports we have received that the negotiations for a new collective agreement in the tourism sector between Efling and the employers have been deadlocked for months because employers are resisting union demands for an increase in the base wage, affordable housing and a shorter working week. We stand with you in your struggle to win these improvements which would help bring dignity to the lives of hotel housekeepers.”

“As a union composed of immigrant workers, mainly women, we understand and support the demand of your union – representing low-wage immigrant women workers – for social inclusion and for respect on the job,” United Here writes. “On International Women‘s Day, 2019, we stand together with you, for marginalized women workers around the world, and join our voices with yours in the demand for justice, respect, and dignity on the job.”

As reported, the stoppage will extend from 10:00 until 23:59 today. Furthermore, these workers are advised to go to the Gamla Bíó theatre in downtown Reykjavík, where they will be given their strike pay. At 16:00, these workers will march through downtown, passing many of the major hotels in the area, and re-assemble at Gamla Bíó at 17:00 for further activities, the details of which can be read about here.

More and longer strikes may also be in the works in the weeks and months ahead, pending worker approval.

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