Efling has sent the hotel manager Árni Valur Sólonsson a letter responding to an illegal mass layoff at the hotels Capital-Inn, City Park Hotel and City Center Hotel which he operates under different ID numbers (kennitala).
At the end of April, just after the passing of new collective agreements, Árni Valur distributed letters to staff. The demand was made that employees sign a resignation of their terms of pay. They could choose to be rehired at new terms, designed “with the aim of reducing labour costs.” If they didn’t agree on the spot, it was seen as a resignation. Several employees have lost their jobs on this basis.
“This is completely unethical conduct,” says Viðar Þorsteinsson, managing director of Efling. “We have just signed new collective agreements with the employers’ association, SA, of which Árni’s companies are members. The contracts aim at raising the wages and improving conditions of workers. The ink hasn’t even dried on the paper when he attempts to cheat his employees of these improvements. In addition, the laws on mass layoffs weren’t observed.”
This isn’t the first time that Árni Valur and his conduct are the subject of Efling review. Last October, workplace inspectors of Efling and other unions discovered that Árni was extending his Ármúli hotel, City Park, without proper paperwork. Health and safety authorities shut down the construction activities due to “significant danger” for the “life and health of workers”. The municipal building inspector also stopped construction for separate reasons, citing the lack of building permits.
When Efling started preparations for a hotel maids’ strike on March 8, Árni Valur tried to prevent his staff’s participation in the strike vote. Talking to Vísir, he explained why: “I know that most if not all of my employees do not want to go on strike.”
The result of this posture by the hotel manager became evident in strike actions on March 22. “He received us and we saw that staff were working,” says Ragnar Ólason, head of the Efling grievance division. “He said it was none of our concern, they weren’t in Efling.” The relevant staff were doing jobs which fall under the collective agreement between Efling and SA, meaning that these were cases of strike-breaking.
In the letter to Árni Valur, Efling notes several other questionable items in the resignation letter, which may be against the law, such as a “new over payment scheme” dependent on “union membership”. It is also pointed out that the job contracts which are being terminated often have irregular employment ratios, such as “80-100%”, which is not in accord with the collective agreements.
The heads of the three hotels in question have been given seven days to respond and withdraw their layoffs. Efling reserves all rights to collect wage claims from these hotels on behalf of its members in accord with the law and collective agreement.
Efling has also requested a response from SA on the affair.