A union leader in Akureyri, North Iceland, claims that last summer, dozens of cases came to his attention involving employees in the tourism industry being underpaid, according to Vísir. Björn Snæbjörnsson, head of Eining-Iðja Union in Akureyri, believes infringements on employees’ rights are more common in tourism than elsewhere.
Helga Árnadóttir, CEO of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association tells Vísir, “We emphasize that companies within our association respect wage agreements, and we’re unaware of people’s rights being infringed upon within our ranks.” She adds, “There are, however, many companies in our country operating in the travel industry, and it’s not to be tolerated if some of them don’t respect current wage agreement. We must be careful not to generalize about this being the rule within the tourism sector.”
Björn says dozens of cases he has seen involve failure to follow rules about paying workers overtime. “Many in this sector simply don’t know they’re violating employees’ rights, while others intentionally do so. That’s just the way it is.” He says he has heard from a number of employers who follow the rules to the letter, but are tired of their competitors’ in the industry infringing on their employees’ rights. “It skews the competition when some pay under the legal rate.”
Eining-Iðja Union has intervened in many employee disputes and mailed ads and brochures to employees, explaining what their paystubs should look like. The reaction has been positive, Björn reports, and the union has received a number of inquiries as a result. “Employees must also do a better job of reading their pay stubs and being alert.”