All 25 members of the riot squad of the Sudurnes Police Department in southwest Iceland decided to resign from such duties at a meeting yesterday in protest of their wages. All nine members of the riot squad of the Eyjafjördur Police Department in the north have done the same.
Police officers safeguarding Althingi during protests in October 2010. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“We did it because we felt forced to because our wages don’t reflect our duties,” Hjálmar Hallgrímsson, a police officer in Sudurnes, told Morgunbladid. “People seem to forget quickly who safeguarded Althingi [the parliament], maintained peace and showed everyone respect, both the public and officials.”
“Police officers have shown the situation significant understanding which is reflected in our work, for example when protests have gone out of hand,” Hallgrímsson added, referring to the series of protests outside the parliament after the banking collapse in 2008.
According to ruv.is, riot police officers are dissatisfied with the recent verdict of the arbitration court on the wages of police officers and the wages offered to them by authorities. Specially trained police officers feel that their participation in difficult projects is not evaluated fairly.
Today the Sudurnes Police Union will recommend to the National Union of Police Officers that members of riot squads all around the country resign, which would create considerable uncertainty on safety and surveillance, for example when Althingi reopens next Saturday.