From Iceland — Mass Firing At Labour Union On First Day Of New Board In Office

Mass Firing At Labour Union On First Day Of New Board In Office

Published April 12, 2022

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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The new directorship board of Efling put forward, and passed, a measure on their first working day to fire everyone working at the labour union, Vísir reports.

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These firings are to go into effect at the beginning of next month, and current employees will be obliged to continue working until this time. All of their jobs will be advertised, for either replacements or for those fired to apply again.

The reason giving for the firing was “organisational changes”, which include an equal pay certification, new job descriptions, qualification assessments and changes to the payment system. It was presented on the first day of work of the new director, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, with a renewed chairman’s mandate and at the same time as the first board meeting of the new board, which took over at the union’s general meeting last Friday. According to Vísir’s sources, Sólveig Anna did not show up for work on her first day of work but attended the board meeting.

The measure was harshly criticised by the minority on the membership board, and some employees have reportedly learned of their impending termination by reading about it on the news. Drífa Snædal, president of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ), has condemned the mass firing, saying that the move was unprecedented, would be damaging to working people seeking the counsel of experienced and knowledgable staff, and encouraged the Efling board to reconsider their position. She added that ASÍ would be reviewing the matter as well.

These changes follow what has been a lengthy and often fraught struggle within the leadership of Efling. In fact, Sólveig Anna’s re-election last February came just over three months after resigning from her position following criticism from union members who wanted to see changes made to how management handled operations. Following her resignation, shop stewards emphasised to the media that they never wanted her to resign; that they sought to resolve the matter in-house, and hoped that the feedback would instead lead to changes in management practices.

Efling is one of the largest labour unions in Iceland, representing some of the lowest wage earners in the country, many of them workers of foreign origin.

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