Sólveig Anna answers questions about the collective bargaining negotiations (Video)

The Union Alliance, a coalition of the largest labor unions and national unions in the general labor market, demands that the wage increases of the new collective agreements will apply retroactively from January 1. However Samtök atvinnulífsins (SA), wants them to apply from 1 February. Today, the Union Alliance referred the collective agreement dispute to the state mediator, as it became clear that SA did not agree to its moderate approach.

In a new video, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, the chairman of Efling, reviews the status of the collective bargaining negotiations and also answers questions that Efling members have sent to her about the negotiations. The video can be watched here at the end of the article. It should be noted that the video was recorded and sent to Efling members before the decision was made by the Union Alliance to refer the dispute to the state mediator.

Among the things Sólveig Anna answers in the video is a question of the retroactive effect of wage increases, but as mentioned above, there is disagreement between parties on when they should take effect. However, the Union Alliance insists that January 1 should be the mark.

In an email Sólveig Anna got a question regarding whether the high rental costs were a subject in the negotiations. Sólveig Anna answers that among the demands of the Union Alliance, regarding the government’s involvement, was that rent allowances have to increase and that a rent brake should be put in place.

The goal is to bring down inflation and increase purchasing power

In a question about what the goal is regarding wage increases, the questioner states that the increases should not be lower than in the last contracts, since high inflation during the contract period ate them up. Sólveig Anna replies that the Union Alliance has submitted proposals for moderate wage increases. However, those proposals are based on the condition that the government agrees to restore the public transfer systems, the housing, child benefit and interest benefit systems. Payments from all these systems must be increased, and if this is done, it would give workers between 30 and 50 thousand krónur tax-free per month, in addition to salary increases subject to tax. With this, the goal is to bring inflation down and increase purchasing power.

The Union Alliance emphasizes that during the conclusion of the collective bargaining agreement, conditions will be created that will cause inflation to decrease rapidly, by 4 percent per year from the beginning of the contract period. If those goals are not achieved, workers will be compensated for the loss of purchasing power due to inflation with increased wage increases. “We consider this approach the most effective way to pressure companies not to raise prices,” says Sólveig Anna.

The collective bargaining agreements of members of different unions will not be the same in all respects. Thus, Efling and the SGS will make similar agreements, while VR, LÍV and Samiðn will make different agreements. However, all workers will receive the same salary increases.

It is also clearly stated in the demands of the Union Alliance that the rights of workers in the private market need to be increased, among other things with better protection against dismissal.

Finally, Sólveig Anna encourages Efling members to continue sending her e-mails with questions and thanks the interest shown by members. “United we have a good chance of reaching a good agreement for all working people in Iceland.”