I write this article as a direct response by the courts, forcing Efling to hand over their membership lists to the state mediator, in order for him to facilitate a union-wide vote on a contract.
The courts allowing the mediator to do this sets a terrifying precedent for any future negotiations and for workers rights in Iceland at large.
We exist in a time where people around the world are engaged in strike actions and labor organising, because we understand that for far too long we have been given nothing but scraps while the richest in society grow fat from our labor.
There is an understanding and a wider sentiment that asking nicely for a living wage does not work any more. Therefore we are forced to exercise our basic right to withhold our labor. It is the only leverage we have.
And with that leverage comes the ability to not merely ask for a little more, just enough to tide us over until the next round of negotiations, all the while profits continue to skyrocket and we lose out.
It means that we have the rare opportunity to ask for a meaningful, substantial, life-changing change to our situation.
That is what we on the negotiations committee of Efling have been engaged with for the past 4 months or more.
Our position from the outset has been that any agreement which is less than the current level of inflation is NOT a real-terms pay raise.
We know this because we on the committee are workers and Efling members, who live every day seeing our wages get chipped away, and the profit from that ends up in the hands of somebody like Halldór Benjamín, who sits and tells us that we should accept less.
And now, Aðalsteinn, the state mediator (who has a long and troubling history of working closely with Halldór Benjamín) has decided that we as a union should be forced to vote on the exact same contract which SA have been trying to shove down our throats since day one.
The scope and remit of the state mediators power means that he could have proposed a union-wide vote on anything. It could have equally been a vote on the first Efling proposal, or some kind of middle ground. But no.
He is forcing a vote on something that ONLY favors SA and corporate profits, At the expense of the workers.
This goes to show that the state mediator has had no plans to actually do as his job title suggests and find some middle ground which both parties can agree to. He has handed Samtök Atvinnulífsins everything they wanted on a silver platter.
This would be bad enough on its face, but for the courts to now intervene and demand that Efling hands over confidential member information, in order to facilitate this sham?
That should set off giant ringing alarm bells for anybody watching this who has a modicum of decency, shame, or empathy for working folk.
Unfortunately, there are those in society who hate Efling, who despise it's leadership, and would see us fail.
Put aside those feelings, and understand that if Efling loses, workers lose. It is as simple as that.
We have a prime minister who is asleep at the wheel, we have a criminal for a finance minister who has made no secret of his desire to end union membership, and now we have a state mediator who has shown willing to undermine the one and only tool which workers have for protection.
Stand with workers. Now more than ever.
The author is an immigrant worker in manufacturing in Iceland and member of the Efling negotiations committee