In response to statements made by the representatives of the municipal majority of Reykjavík

Efling is glad to see councilmen in Reykjavík offering their thoughts regarding the city’s wage negotiations with low wage employees belonging to Efling. Efling would, however, like to comment on the statement made by a representative of the municipal majority during a meeting of the city council on January 30th. The statement was put forward by Þórdís Lóa Þórhallsdóttir, Líf Magneudóttir, Dóra Björt Guðjónsdóttir og Heiða Björg Hilmisdóttir.The statement speaks of “solidarity” as having been “confirmed” with the so-called Quality of Life Agreement in the spring of 2019 and asserts that the agreement had been “signed by the entire labor movement.” It furthermore claims that “all the country’s unions which have reached an agreement negotiated on that basis.” The statement may be read in its entirety on the website for the recorded minutes of the city council.Efling would like to point to the fact that the approval of the collective agreement between Efling and SA, given by a vote by the members of Efling on the open labor market in April of 2019, does not contain the approval of anything on behalf of the members of Efling who are employed by the city of Reykjavík. Members of Efling who are employed by the city operate under the terms of their own collective agreement and have an independent right to collective bargaining, which is protected by the law and the constitution. They did not vote on an agreement in the open labor market and had no hand in negotiating it. The signing of a collective agreement in the open labor market almost one year ago therefore does nothing to tie the hands of the negotiating committee of Efling vis-à-vis the city of Reykjavík. Efling calls on people to respect the collective bargaining rights of its members.Efling has pointed to the fact that collective agreement items, wages and working conditions are unlike that which is commonplace in the open labor market. For that very reason it is unlikely that the premises and execution of agreements in the open labor market can apply to the low wage employees of the city. Low wage earners working for municipalities are bound to wage rates and have no possibility of negotiating for higher individual wages and in many cases have very limited access to overtime and shift-work. Also, the hiring-ban subsequent to the economic crash and overheating of the economy during the last decade has caused manning problems and stress at the city’s most fundamental institutions.It is also important to correct the misconception of the council members that all the country’s unions negotiated according to the Quality of Life Agreement. Unions within BSRB, who held a powerful rally at Háskólabíó last week, have yet to negotiate. Also, Efling has published a study which reveals that the ministry of finance reached an agreement before Christmas with the member unions of BHM for wage raises much higher than those in the Quality of Life Agreement, benefitting highly paid state employees.Lastly, it bears mentioning that the negotiating committee has repeatedly expressed a willingness to negotiate with the city in accordance with the premises of the Quality of Life Agreement, which is to say the raising of the lowest wages more than other wages. These are the fundamental items of thinking in the collective agreement negotiations in the open labor market in April of 2019. Pursuant to these aims, the negotiating committee of Efling has put forth a proposal which enforces that aim by making still more precise additional raises to the lowest wages and calls for using the city’s existing financial surplus indicated in its very own budget.The wording of the statement issued by the council members:The mandate of the negotiating committee of the city of Reykjavík is unambiguous. Nothing calls for a change of venue, for negotiating wages somewhere else than at the negotiating table. The situation is obviously precarious but it is important to maintain the solidarity confirmed by the Quality of Life Agreement last spring. The agreement was signed by the entire labor movement and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (Samtök atvinnulífsins). Also, the Quality of Life Agreement included a statement from the government regarding income tax, parental leave, child benefits, housing matters, pension matters, social dumping, economic management, pricing and indexation, as well as the streamlining of regulations and supervision. The Quality of Life Agreement also includes the clear stipulation that the lowest wages are to be raised more than other wages. The city’s proposals in the entire negotiating process have reflected the spirit of the Quality of Life Agreement, on whose basis all the country’s unions, which have reached agreement, have negotiated, whether at the point of signature or during the current negotiations.