Negotiations with the public sector
Icelandic Association of Local Authorities
The talks of Efling and SGS with the association of local authorities have gone on for the last few weeks, in five formal meetings. Those talks have now been referred to the state mediator.
The unions have demanded that the association fulfil its promise on equalising pension rights among municipal workers, a promise that was made in the last collective agreements in 2015. These self-evident rights have already been negotiated with Reykjavík and the state, who now pay an equalising additional 5.91% to our members who work for them. This amounts to nearly 18 thousand per month for those on the lowest wages.
It was therefore surprising to see the representative of the association of local authorities reject any discussion of the matter. In the last agreements, 1.5% were put aside for this purpose. It is unacceptable that the municipalities withhold these sums from our members, low-wage workers at the foundation of our welfare system.
Efling and SGS did not have any choice but to refer the talks to the state mediator. It was not an option to continue talks on the precondition that this issue be exempted.
Efling and SGS have met eight times with representatives of the state. The long and short of it is that no progress has been made.
A shorter working week has bee discussed. The unions emphasise an actual shortening of working time in these agreements. A trial project by the authorities has shown that well-being, health and work environment all see improvements with such a shortening. The negotiation committee of Efling will stick to these demands.
Efling has been at a few meetings with the city's representatives. No progress has been made to talk of. The negotiation committee of Efling does not have much hope for the approach seen at meetings so far.
It has been a surprise to the committee to see the city's attitude to a shorter working week. The expectation was that a real shortening would be discussed. The city, after all, has spearheaded a trial project for such a shortening, with very good results. Those results have been held up at meetings and seminars.
It should also be pointed out that before the last city council elections, all the parties now in the city's government talked approvingly of such a shortening. It was by such promises to workers and residents that these parties gained power in the city.
Contracts expired on March 31. Efling has pushed for getting new agreements as soon as possible. We've been disappointed by the distance between the negotiating positions. We've started preparing for the negotiations to drag out until fall. We exhort our negotiating partners to come to the table in the next meetings with the aim to lessen that distance, so a real shortening of the working week and raises can be achieved as soon as possible.