Truck drivers and hotel employees who are members of the Efling labour union went on strike as of noon today. Including in the striking members are 70 truck drivers employed by Samskip, Skeljungur and Olíudreifing, many of whom deliver petrol throughout the island, and 500 employees of the Berjaya and Edition hotels.
Seventy businesses or organisations were approved for exemptions to ensure they continue to receive service throughout the strike. Those include the police, fire services, Strætó transit system and the state broadcaster RÚV.
Cars without gas
The affected trucking companies believe the effects of the strike could be noticeable at petrol stations around the Reykjavík area as soon as tomorrow. Likewise, Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason told RÚV there could be significant disruptions at Keflavík international airport by the middle of next week.
“There are so many things in our chain that depend on fuel: airport machinery, vehicles, buses and suchlike, which transport passengers and employees to and from the terminal. It is this chain that could start to break very quickly,” he said.
Tourists without hotel rooms
The vast majority of the 500 hotel staff taking strike action are employed as cleaning staff at the affected hotels. The Reykjavík Edition is Iceland’s only five-star hotel, while Berjaya operates seven hotels across Reykjavík. Considering the occupancy rate of Reykjavík hotels, it is anticipated that tourists will be left without clean hotel rooms by Sunday.
Employees of Edition and Berjaya are joining 300 employees of Íslandshotel and Fosshotel in Reykjavík, who began strike action earlier in February. Another 1,650 more Efling members begin voting Thursday about joining the strike. They include employees of other hotels and guest houses, as well as cleaning and security companies.
Efling’s negotiating committee met throughout the day with representatives of the Icelandic Confederation of Business (SA) and state mediator Ástráður Haraldsson.
Ástráður said today that he doesn’t believe that “proper talks” have actually begun, but he is “trying to find out what such talks can be about and whether it is possible to get into actual talks.”
Both sides of the negotiations met from 9:00 until breaking at 17:00. They will reconvene at 20:00.
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