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Should Authorities Intervene in Fishermen’s Strike?

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Should Authorities Intervene in Fishermen’s Strike?

fishing boat

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Icelandic authorities can intervene in the wage dispute between fishermen and fisheries by other means than by passing a law to halt the strike, according to Páll Magnússon, who heads Alþingi’s Industrial Affairs Committee. Former Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson agrees, RÚV reports.

The fishermen’s strike has been in effect for eight weeks.

Páll remarked, “The authorities can’t let this natural resource of the nation stay unused. That’s unrealistic, and I don’t know who people are trying to deceive if they’re maintaining that under no circumstances will the government interfere in this dispute.”

Gunnar Bragi suggested using the tax system to help solve the problem, such as by reinstating a fishermen’s discount on taxes.

Páll suggested that some of the money fishermen receive for food could be treated as a travel allowance and not fully taxed, as had been touched on by the government last summer.

Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir told RÚV yesterday that it’s clear the authorities will not interfere in the dispute at this time. In addition, she ruled out specific measures, such as allocating extra fishing days to smaller boats until the conflict is solved.

On the other hand, she explained that the authorities are in the process of mapping out the effects of the strike. Several ministries take part in that project, in addition to municipalities. “The negotiating parties need to be aware of the cost involved for the nation if they don’t reach an agreement,” she stated.

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