Tour guides employed by foreign companies in Iceland are receiving a daily salary of just ISK 12-15 000 ($115-140/€100-120), RÚV reports. This salary is only a fraction of what Icelandic guides receive, around 40-60 000 ISK ($380-570/€325-485).
Dozens of foreign companies sell trips to Iceland, which can be as many as 15 days long. The companies often rent buses locally for the groups, but send their own drivers and tour guides from abroad. Halldór Grönvold, department head of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour, says it is difficult to know how extensive the companies’ operations are, but loopholes in European Economic Area legislation make it possible for them to pay wages significantly lower than Icelandic collective agreements mandate.
“It is not uncommon for these employees to get from 100-115 euro per day when they have a group,” Halldór stated. “This is between 12 000-15 000 ISK per day. An Icelandic travel guide, or what is known as a driver-guide, those are usually young people who have no formal training as such, on similar trips get 40 000-60 000 ISK per day. So we’re talking about a significant undercutting in the labour market.”
A bill currently being considered by the Icelandic parliament proposes obligating foreign tour companies in the country to pay their employees according to Icelandic collective wage agreements. Foreign tour companies currently do not pay tax in Iceland and many of the regulations that apply to Icelandic tour companies do not apply to them. The new bill would categorise foreign tour companies as working on the Icelandic labour market, thus requiring them to pay wages according to Icelandic wage agreements.