Demands of Efling

The first and foremost demand of Efling is to raise the basic minimum wage for a full daytime job to 425 thousand ISK per month, from the current 300 thousand. The rise would happen in stages during the contract period, presumably 3 years. Every year, the monthly wages would then rise by about 41-42 thousand ISK, for a total of three years. We further demand that wages rise by a fixed amount, not proportionally. The Store and Office Workers’ Union, VR, demands similar raises.

Efling has also presented demands on other clauses of the collective agreement, which can be seen in the full demand document. The demands were worked out in cooperation with the Federation of General and Special workers in Iceland, SGS. Another list of demands was made to the government, where the main demands are a correction of the tax distribution and actions in housing- and interest rate affairs.

Why 425 thousand?

It is the view of Efling that full daytime wages should be sufficient to live off on their own. According to official figures, which the Ministry of Welfare publishes, and given reasonable estimates of housing costs, based on polls of Efling members, an individual’s cost of living amounts to 353 thousand ISK per month. The minimum wage clearly needs to rise significantly to cover this.

Even if the minimum wage rises to 425 thousand ISK, it won’t cover the cost of living if taxes remain unchanged. It would, however, be much closer to the mark.

In recent decades, the tax burden has been shifted onto poorer people. Efling has made demands on the government to reverse this. That way, the minimum wage could cover the cost of living. For that to happen, the personal tax credit would have to be raised to a monthly 96 thousand ISK. If the government made the lowest wages tax-free, the minimum wage would only have to be raised to 368 thousand ISK per month.

Can employers afford this?

Ever since Efling, SGS, and VR published their demands, employers have said that they can’t afford them – companies would go under and Iceland would collapse. This is exactly the same refrain they’ve said every time collective agreements are being negotiated. The last time was in 2015, when the agreements ended up entailing large raises. There were all sorts of projections of runaway inflation and all sorts of disasters, none of which came true.

It is, of course, unfortunate if unnecessarily large raises burden employers. It is our view that the highest wages, bonuses and dividends should first of all be cut down on, since they are out of all proportion and have risen by extraordinary amounts, compared to regular wages, in recent years.

It is the view of Efling that collective agreements should lead to more equality, not maintaining current imbalances by raising wages proportionally.

Main demands for a new agreement

Against the Confederation of employers, SA

  • 425,000ISK minimum wage by the end of the contract period
  • A clause that invalidates the contract if inequality increases
  • More democracy and workers’ control in workplaces
  • No cuts to work experience rights when moving between employers
  • A working week of 32 hours by the end of the contract period
  • Fines for breaches of the agreement

Against the government

  • A national campaign to fix housing
  • A tax-free minimum wage
  • Higher taxes on profits and other financial gains
  • The same improvements for the elderly and disabled as for workers, with fewer cuts
  • No more indexation (í. verðtrygging)
  • Longer parental leave, to cover the period until kindergarten
  • Public health care services, accessible to all

The demands of SGS to the association of employers, SA, can be accessed here.

The demands of SGS to the government can be accessed here.