Last week Efling launched a campaign in support of a worker fired in retribution for being a union representative (""https://www.efling.is/en/2021/10/icelandair-attacks-a-union-rep-and-workers-rights/
""). Rightfully so, Ólöf Helga Adolfsdóttur has our full solidarity.
I was a bit surprised at the strong reaction from the union. We have known several foreign workers over the years who were fired or simply removed from shift schedules in retribution for being a union representative. It is common practice in the tourism and restaurant sector. There was no campaign for them, no attempt by the union to get their job back, only a legal case that took about two years and ended with the workers maybe getting a pay out of two or three months wages.
This is why firing of representatives are so common for foreign workers. There are very few consequences for employers and it is very much worth paying a bit of money to get rid of an active worker, who can make sure their coworkers rights are respected and send a message that anyone can be fired for speaking up.
My brilliant comrade said last year over coffee, that the rights abuses foreign workers have been experiencing for years will also affect Icelandic workers once the economic downturn from Covid sets in. This is also not the first time Icelandair is blatantly braking Icelandic labour law with the full support of the SA (Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise). Earlier this year they fired striking workers, something we made a video about (""https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RH4tg9mh1o
"") and something that they faced zero consequences for, because ASÍ (the Icelandic Confederation of Labour) was very concerned about preserving the peace on the labour market. I cannot help but see the actions of Icelandair in the past as a concentrated effort to erode union rights in Iceland, especially as both times they had the full backing of the SA. Which is why the statement of Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson, chairmain of VR union “I find it quite unlikely that a company in the position that [Icelandair] is in will go to war with the union movement” (""https://www.visir.is/g/20212166353d/med-o-likindum-ad-icelandair-aetli-i-strid-vid-verka-lyds-hreyfinguna
"") gave me quite a headache.
Our rights are under attack. Whether it is in the small scale of union representatives getting fired or a full on attack on the right to strike, employers are trying to introduce radical changes to the labour market. It is time for a radical response by the unions.