Icelandic Journalists Union May Strike For First Time In About 40 Years - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelandic Journalists Union May Strike For First Time In About 40 Years

Published September 30, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Creative Commons

As negotiations have fallen apart between the Icelandic Journalists Union (BÍ) and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA), Iceland’s reporters may soon go on strike for the first time since 1978, Vísir reports.

BÍ and SA have been in negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement for reporters in BÍ all summer long. Those negotiations have apparently taken a turn for the worse, as far as BÍ chair Hjálmar Jónsson is concerned.

“We received an offer on Thursday that was completely unacceptable,” he told reporters. “So there was really nothing else to be done but end negotiations, unfortunately, and prepare for action.”

Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson, the managing director of SA, told reporters that the collective bargaining agreement presented to BÍ was comparable to similar agreements SA has made recently, and that they have closed deals with 95% of the negotiators they have dealt with. However, Hjálmar says the contract they were offered did not take into consideration the working conditions of reporters.

“We are not asking for pay rises or expenditures that are any greater than in other agreements,” Hjálmar said. “But we do want to adjust the contract to the working conditions of reporters. If no consideration is made for our requests than we have no other choice.”

The contract SA has offered will be introduced to the public in the coming days, which will determine the next steps. When asked if he will personally advocate for a strike, Hjálmar said, “Of course; it’s the only weapon that poor people have.”

However, how a reporter’s strike would play out now is much different than how it played out last time, in 1978. At that time, of course, there was no such thing as online reporting or news websites, Hjálmar admits.

“We will of course take into consideration how the media is today, and ensure that people have access to information,” he said. “That is our duty and we can’t put that duty on hold just because we’re in a collective bargaining dispute.”

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