Negotiations with the state, the city of Reykjavík and other municipalities have not yet concluded but will be resumed after the summer break. This summer, an agreement was signed with the city of Reykjavík, the state and several institutions for a deposit of 105.000 kronas to the members of Efling, which was paid out on August 1st. The agreement stipulated that negotiations would resume in the middle of August and a conclusion hopefully reached before September 15th. Employees received this deposit to make up for the delays to negotiations.
The Icelandic Association of Local Authorities (SÍS), however, refused to pay the deposit to the members of Efling and the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS) on the grounds that the wage dispute had been referred to the state mediator. The dispute was referred to the state mediator because SÍS refused to engage in discussions on how best to reach equality in the public and private pension system, as per the collective agreement negotiations of 2009.
A continuance sought in the case of SGS versus SÍS
SGS, of which Efling is a part, then decided to litigate before the labor court, where the contractual item from 2009, regarding the duty of local authorities to enter into negotiations for the equalization of pension rights, will be interpreted. The case was heard on August 26th and the attorney for the negotiating committee SÍS requested a continuance The arguments for the request to dismiss the case were due on September 3 and were heard on September 4. The request hasn’t been adjudicated yet. If it gets rejected, there will be a further due date for turning in a substantive argument on the case itself.
Discussions regarding the equalization of pension fund rights is therefore in a certain process and other meetings with SÍS will be held where other items of the collective agreement negotiations will be discussed.
The state of negotiations
Negotiations are going extremely slowly and it’s entirely uncertain when new agreements can be signed. One of the leading demands of Efling and SGS is a shorter working week, which is also a demand of other unions negotiating in the public sector. There is still a great distance between the union and employer sides on what would count as a solution to that important topic. As to the deposit to Efling members from the Association of Local Authorities, we still hope that it will take place, and we see it as a matter of justice in the labour market. It is reprehensible that the Association of Local Authorities continues to disregard its employees by not paying the people who work especially important jobs under heavy pressure and for low wages.