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Thousands Strike in Iceland as Negotiations Shatter

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Thousands Strike in Iceland as Negotiations Shatter

University of Iceland

University of Iceland. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

More than 3,000 members of the Association of Academics (BHM), representing 27 trade unions of academics in Iceland, will go on strike today as yesterday’s meeting with the authorities proved unsuccessful in solving the wage dispute.

Most of those involved, 2,343 people, will stop working at 12 noon today and strike for four hours. Almost 600 people have been striking since Tuesday. At 7 pm, 89 members of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra will go on strike, resulting in a concert being canceled for the first time in the orchestra’s 65-year history, ruv.is reports.

Most of those striking today for the first time, 654 people, are natural scientists; 556 are members of the Union of University Graduates; 311 lawyers; 148 psychologists; 121 physiotherapists; 103 librarians and information technicians; 85 social workers and 84 midwives.

Already striking are 135 midwives working at Landspítali National University Hospital, 215 biomedical scientists and 108 x-ray technicians. Surgeries have been postponed as a consequence of the strike.

BHM is organizing a demonstration at Lækjartorg square in Reykjavík and at Akureyri Hospital at 1 pm today, following which authorities will be challenged to take the association’s demands seriously.

At the meeting held yesterday it became clear that there is a big difference between what the BHM is asking for and what the Icelandic state is offering, which is a 3.5 percent pay raise.

Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson told RÚV that complying with BHM’s demands would threaten economic stability. BHM’s representatives have not revealed their exact demands, only stated that education should be valued.

The next meeting in the wage dispute has been scheduled tomorrow.

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