From Iceland — Agreement Reached With Shop Stewards Regarding Mass Firing At Labour Union

Agreement Reached With Shop Stewards Regarding Mass Firing At Labour Union

Published April 13, 2022

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, the president of the labour union Efling, announced that the union’s board has reached an agreement with the union’s shop stewards regarding the mass firing of every employee at the union offices.

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As reported, the reason given for the firing was “organisational changes”, which include an equal pay certification, new job descriptions, qualification assessments and changes to the payment system. This measure was passed by the majority seats of the board on its first day in office.

The initial terms stipulated that all of these employees would finish their last day at the start of next month, and would be obliged to work until that time, but current employees would be able to re-apply. The move has sparked considerable criticism, amongst them from Drífa Snædal, the president of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ), who said that the mass firing 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.

Sólveig announced today that an agreement was reached with the shop stewards last Monday.

“The agreement with the shop stewards means that employees who request it will be released from their work obligations during the last month’s notice period,” the announcement reads in part. “All employees are guaranteed a minimum notice period of 3 months, including those who have not earned it. Efling will waive rights and obligations in cases where an employee wishes to take up another job before the notice period has expired. In addition, employees will be given room to apply for other jobs during the notice period if they so wish, e.g. go to job interviews during working hours.”

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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