The Icelandic government committed at its cabinet meeting yesterday to create a special conciliation committee to deal with the ongoing strike by nurses and academics.
The law states that if industrial action causes very serious problems, the government can set up a conciliation committee to work on a solution to the conflict. The government will work in co-operation with the state mediator and the unions in setting up the committee.
Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson told RÚV that he hopes all parties will come to the table with open minds and added that the setting up of the committee is contingent on the unions agreeing to it.
The committee will have power to resolve the dispute and will be made up of impartial members.
Opposition parties had called for such a committee to be set up before the strikes even began, when it was clear contract negotiations were going nowhere.
The Minister for Health, Kristján Þór Júlíusson, said it was not appropriate at that time—explaining that it would be a big step for the government to take, with the state itself effectively taking over the job of the appointed state mediator, an office which is there specifically to mediate workplace disputes.