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Unions Criticize MPs’ Pay Raise

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Unions Criticize MPs’ Pay Raise

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Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

The decision of the Icelandic Wage Council to increase the pay of elected officials by up to 44 percent this month has been harshly criticized by a number of people, RÚV reports.

Þórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir, who heads the Association of Academics (BHM) claims it’s necessary to reevaluate laws on how the Wage Council operates and make sure it has guidelines to follow. She suggests the council should not determine the salaries of as many people or professions as it does.

“The Wage Council’s decision to increase the salaries of elected officials by hundreds of thousands of krónur serves to create havoc in the labor market,” Þórunn stated. “Up to a 44 percent increase is being determined in on step, and such a large increase is by no means in line with the salary increases offered by the state to public workers, or negotiated in the general labor market, or what is offered to university-educated people.”

The Federation of State and Municipal Employees (BSRB) strongly opposes the Wage Council’s decision. In an announcement, the federation states that if it is the will of authorities to veer off the course which had been set to ensure stability in the labor market, then it’s clear that workers will demand similar pay increases.

BSRB would like laws regarding the Wage Council to be reevaluated and asks the council to reconsider its decision. The federation believes that if politicians are sincere when stating their willingness to maintain economic and social stability in the country, then the pay raise doesn’t make sense.

Other union leaders have voiced similar concerns.

Politicians, too, have entered the debate. Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson would like MPs to intervene. In his opinion, the Wage Council’s decision has jeopardized the cooperation of authorities and unions on wage issues. In his mind, stability in society is at stake. Dagur has asked that the salary of city officials not be raised in accordance with the pay raise of the MPs and the president.

Other politicians have criticized the pay raise, among them Pirate MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir.

It turns out that three out of the Wage Council’s five members are elected by Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament. One is elected by the minister of finance.

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