“After working nearly 30 years I get just 250,000kr in pocket for working 7 hours a day. Of this, 240,000kr goes into rent!” The woman who said this started working in kindergartens 17 years old. She now works at Múlaborg, which Sólveig Anna and Ragnar Ólason visited today. What does she have left after paying rent? Ten thousand!
This is not just her reality. It’s also the daily life of most of those keeping the kindergartens of the city running. The staff works under enormous pressure and stress, with staff shortages and frequent illness. This is what faces those who bear responsibilities greater than most, to sit at the bottom of the Icelandic wage scale
Our society relies on these people getting up in the morning and going to work. What happens to society if they don’t? If they stop accepting the oppression they suffer by their working conditions and wages. What would then happen to the equality, which Icelandic society is so proud of, but which in practice is left behind. And what about our totem, economic growth, which in practice dominates everything, even though kindergarten staffers are told that material goods aren’t everything. How would the wheels of the economy spin if the kindergarten staff would stop offering up their labour?
The sum of 250,000kr is what the city authorities consider sufficient to work in a kindergarten. The people who made this choice of course decide that their own work is worth far more. Thatwork is valued very highly indeed.
In our meeting in Múlaborg today we allowed the mind to wander for a bit, to imagine what would happen to our society if we just wouldn’t show up to work.
Kindergarten work is a fundamental requirement for Icelandic society. The staff there have had it with the demeaning way they’re treated. They have had enough and want their work to be valued for what it’s worth — with actual money.