Below are Framsýn´s demands for the coming negotiations for the next collective agreement.
Here are Framsýn´s demands to SA
The preconditions for signing a new collective agreement are that wage earners can make a living from daytime wages and that those wages meet official cost-of-living benchmarks. Raising the lowest wages shall be a priority. The new collective agreement shall apply from the time the previous agreement expires, that is from 1 January 2019, and shall be retroactive if signing takes place at a later date. The aim shall be a three-year contract period, but with clear and quantifiable precondition clauses, among others an equality factor that prevents wage increases for low and middle earners from being automatically translated into extreme raises for the top earners. Wage increases by absolute numbers, rather than proportions, shall be the general rule. The minimum wage insurance shall be abolished and the lowest wage rates shall be the lowest basic wages.
The Federation of General and Special workers in Iceland retains the right to introduce further demands in individual professions. Special provisions of each member union shall be extended.
Minimum wages shall be 425,000ISK at the end of the contract period, in case no significant tax system changes are implemented such that the tax burden of the lowest and lower middle wages is relieved.
The wage table shall be reviewed and simplified significantly and percentage differences between categories and steps defined. The number of steps by period of employment shall be increased to have steps for one year, three years, seven years, and ten years.
Youth wages over 18 years of age shall be abolished and basic wages correspond to 18 years of age instead.
Responsibility and work intensity shall be taken into account in wages by specified percentages. This applies to, for instance, the training of new staff, increased intensity when there are staff shortages, strain due to emotional labor, and responsibility for the safety of customers, passangers and colleagues.
Wage supplements for work done after midnight until 8 am shall be increased.
1 May shall be defined as a major holiday (í. stórhátíðardagur).
A precondition clause in the collective agreement shall, among other things, state that inequality in Icelandic society shall not increase during the contract period. Inequality shall be measured by including all taxable income, and taking into account the effects of taxes and benefits (disposable income). The aim of the clause is to ensure that wage increases to the lower earners don’t escalate all the way up the wage scale. Should inequality increase, the termination of the contract shall be allowed. To minimize uncertainty in the interpretation and effect of the clause, a dependable and objective method shall be agreed upon for measuring inequality, which will be in the hands of Statistics Iceland.
Clauses shall be introduced that limit the prerogatives of employers to make housing a part of the terms of employment. Inspections of such hiring terms shall be allowed. Rent shall not go above a specified proportion of gross pay on a monthly basis, and shall not be charged except through a notarized contract, in line with normal rent, and shall be stated in a job contract that is available for review by the union. If the living quarters are under the auspices of the employer they shall follow regulations on employee housing and unions shall have the right to inspect the conditions of the accommodation, with the consent of the employee as the case may be.
The situation of the pension fund system shall be discussed, in particular how its investment capacity can be utilized to build more homes for low and middle income groups. Greater permissions for using private pension plans for down payments or paying off home loans are demanded.
For democracy against discrimination
Workplace democracy shall be introduced so that staff are brought in and involved in decisions on the future of workplaces, the closing of workstations or other decisions with momentous consequences for staff.
Union representatives shall have more leeway to fulfil their duties at full pay during working hours. The rights of the union to communicate with employees during working hours shall be uncontested. Special consideration and support shall be secured for representatives in smaller workplaces and those that have many workstations. Electing more representatives than laws assume shall be permitted, allowing them to share representation duties and enjoy layoff protection. That protection should also extend to others in positions of confidence at the union, such as sitting on boards, in professional groups or negotiation committees. The rights of union representatives and unions to call workplace meetings during working hours shall be expanded.
The collective agreement shall specify the employer’s duty to supply interpretation services when applicable and that employees should not, as a rule, be made to interpret important information for each other. Unions shall have a right to coordination with employers in evaluating the need for and quality of interpretation services and its execution.
Discrimination based on gender, age and origin shall be addressed. Demands for gendered working dress, and discrimination against employees based on language skill, shall be prohibited. Interpretation services or translations shall be provided when applicable.
Equipment and health
Health protection shall be strengthened by having employers provide grants for health promotions and giving staff the possibility of an annual physical examination at the nearest clinic during work hours without reduction in pay. Work related illnesses shall be acknowledged in clearer terms than they currently are.
All necessary equipment, such as shoes, crampons, clothes and other things required for work shall be provided.
A clarification box on work in cold spaces according to regulation 384/2005 shall be added.
All personally acquired rights in terms of period of employment shall be retained when switching employers.
Illness rights shall be modified such that after one year’s employment, the employee can use up to 12 days of acquired illness rights for the illness of their spouse, children and parents in each 12 month period. All illness rights shall be paid from substitute wages. The agreement shall be clarified to specify that each day of illness shall count as one day, regardless of the workday’s length and whether it is shiftwork or by the hour. If an employee has to leave work after half a day, it should count as half a sick day. The same shall apply when the employee has to leave for a part of the day due to illness.
Holiday rights shall be increased to make the minimum summer holiday 25 days, along with two days of paid winter vacation.
The term of notice shall be changed such that two months notice are required after two years’ employment.
Education and training
Skills assessment shall be strengthened in all professions. Staff of foreign origin shall have access to Icelandic lessons during working hours without reduction in pay. Special consideration shall be given to the recognition of the education and skills of foreign workers. Employers shall ease access to courses and training for employees over 40 years of age, so the latter can maintain their position in the job market.
Employers shall pay the wages of professional drives while they attend refresher courses, whether those courses are planned during daytime working hours or not.
The implementation of a shorter working week without reduction in pay shall take into consideration fields of work where increased productivity is hard to measure or achieve, such as in services, care, at conveyer belts and so on. The working week shall be defined from Monday to Friday and aim at achieving a 32 hour working week during the contract period.
The work quota in shift work shall be 80% of daytime laborers, and at full pay, paid proportionally by employment ratio.
If the working day ends in a different workstation from where it begins, the transportation of the employee back to the first workstation shall take place during working hours. The employer shall provide the transportation.
Staff shall have ready access to time reports and to clocking into and out of work, whatever the method of logging working hours. If the reports are changed, those changes have to be pointed out specifically in the report. Time reports should be stored until the legal lapse of wage demands.
A penalty clause shall be introduced for breaches of the collective agreement. The fine shall be a specified amount of ISK, paid into the dispute fund of the relevant union. The employer shall carry the natural and full cost of making wage claims which the union prepares for its members over unpaid wages. The union collects those costs directly from the employer as part of the claim.
The major projects agreement shall be reconfigured, extending it to smaller projects than it currently covers. The demands of SGS for a reworking of the agreement are reaffirmed.
Chapter 5 of the main collective agreement shall be changed to strengthen the right of unions to participate in making workplace agreements, to protect better the interests of employees in the relevant workplaces.
The clause on transportation to and from work and the responsibility of the employer for trips between workplaces and to and from work shall be reviewed in cases where public transport isn’t available.
Agreed at a meeting of the SGS negotiation committee 10 October 2018.
Here are Framsýn´s demands to the government
The wage increases negotiated in recent years have been a mixed success for the wage earners of Iceland. The equalizing effects of the tax and benefits systems have been reduced significantly, and housing costs have skyrocketed. These changes have in every way hit the low-waged sectors hardest. Therefore, the Unions of SGS unambiguously demand that the government assume responsibility for improving conditions by reviewing the tax and benefits system, and make a concerted effort to address housing. Tens of thousands of members have taken part in forming these demands and there is a consensus that responsibility lies with the government in the coming negotiations.
The lowest wages shall be tax-free by doubling the personal tax allowance. The personal tax allowance will be lowered incrementally for higher wages, such that the reduced taxation of the low and middle-income groups will be financed by, among other methods, an increase of the tax contribution of the highest earners. The taxing of lower and middle-income groups will thus be closer to that of other Nordic countries. The personal tax allowance shall thereafter follow the development of wages to prevent the tax burden from sliding back on workers in the low-wage sectors, as the case has been in recent decades.
Owners of capital shall not be excluded from responsibility, and the capital gains tax shall be raised to the levels common in other Nordic countries. Owners of capital shall not be exempted from paying municipal income tax. Real property tax must be re-evaluated to prevent it from increasing in connection with the market housing price. Such increases place undue burdens on common workers who have managed to finance the purchase of their home. Such a force majeure is intolerable.
A national campaign shall be established, comparable in size and effect to the worker housing system (Verkamannabústaðir). Measures to be considered for the financing of such a system will assume direct state sponsorship (for instance through capital contributions by the Housing Finance Fund), funding by a premium on employers, an investment from pension funds, or a combination of all these options. Redeploying the previously negotiated increases in pension contributions for building houses shall be looked into. Municipalities shall do their part by providing lots and prioritizing planning for the initiative. Wage earners shall have increased rights to use their additional pension savings to buy a home or pay off their home loans. It shall be ensured that the capital contributions be available for use across the country and that Bjarg and other social housing organizations build houses around the country.
The work that has started at Bjarg shall be utilized, but other implementations that can support its aims through other sources of income shall also be looked at. The aim will be to secure at least 1,250 new homes per year, and that middle income groups and low wage workers with lots of overtime pay have access to them. The possibility of pension funds participating in the building of new homes shall be looked into.
Changes shall be made to the laws on rent in order to limit short-term renting of residential properties for tourism. Rising rents and down payments shall be limited in clear terms. Rental agreements shall, in general, be long-term. A fixed state subsidy to the association of tenants shall be inscribed into law. The laws on housing cooperatives need to be expanded to include more forms of cooperatives than is currently the case; they shall be free to operate in the rental market and apply to the state for capital contributions. Laws on dwellings shall be adapted to more varied forms of rental associations.
Credit scoring needs to be harmonized with ability to pay. Lending institutions shall take full account of prospective borrowers’ ability to pay for rent, relative to the year in which the tax return being assessed applies to. Care must be taken not to discriminate between different areas of the country in these matters. The housing problems of people in regional Iceland must be dealt with, for instance by providing homes at a manageable price, especially to those living in so-called cold areas. Increased assistance to those buying their first home shall be secured.
Housing support (housing benefit and interest relief) shall be greatly strengthened. Cuts due to income or wealth with respect to housing support shall be reduced.
Social security and benefits
Child benefit shall be raised and cuts reduced so that none apply to people below the minimum wage. Benchmarks for cuts shall follow the development of wages. Interest relief and housing benefit must be strengthened and cuts due to income and wealth reduced.
Special emphasis is given to the elderly and disabled enjoying the same improvements in conditions as wage earners in the labour market. Cuts in the benefits of pensioners and the disabled in the social security system must be reduced significantly. The government’s attacks on the funds which working people have built through the years to improve their condition must be stopped so as to prevent them from being drained into subsidies for social services and institutions that are supposed to be the responsibility of government.
Interest and indexation
Indexing of consumer credit shall be abolished, and measures introduced to prevent borrowing costs from being pushed onto borrowers by other means. The housing term shall be removed from the laws on interest and indexation. The central bank shall lower policy rates and a roof on housing interest shall be established to bring interest conditions in line with those in neighbouring countries.
The period of parental leave for both parents shall be extended to 18-24 months in total, to bridge the gap between the initial period of parental leave and kindergarten, and to provide for a better life for families with children. In cases where one parent is excluded from using their parental leave, because of death, artificial insemination, exclusion from the country or other reasons, the other parent should have rights to full parental leave otherwise allotted to both parents.
Health services must be accessible to everyone, irrespective of means or place of residence. A clear health care policy shall be formed and the health services run by the state, irrespective of market forces. As a result of decades-long cost cutting in the public sector, patient contributions to the health care system have become a great burden on low wage workers, especially on those outside the capital area who must access it far from home with the consequent costs and work loss. Payments by patients must be significantly reduced and an ombudsman for patients established. The number of hospital rooms throughout the country must be increased.
Education on rights and duties in the labour market must be strengthened significantly, and it must be included in the national curriculum of elementary and secondary schools. Employers shall be expected to have basic knowledge about the rights of workers before they get a license to establish and run a business. The educational system must be strengthened in light of changes in the labour market, including grants for vocational training and securing funds for continuous education centres and Fræðslusjóður.
Criminal activity in the labour market
The legal framework for tackling criminality in the labour market and breaches of the collective agreement must be made punishable in clear terms and fines introduced into law for such breaches. The prerogatives of unions to gather information in and about companies, and to levy fines must be increased. Clear communication procedures between unions and the relevant public institutions must be established if companies need to be closed due to serious breaches of employees’ rights.
Workplace inspections by unions shall be strengthened and regular and cooperation shall be strengthened in cases of violations of terms of pay, conditions at work, and housing, between unions on the one hand and, on the other, The Occupational Safety and Health Authority, Directorate of Labour, Commissioner of The Inland Revenue, Police, Public Health Authority and other supervisory bodies.
The Occupational Safety and Health Authority and The Directorate of Labour shall be combined into one powerful institution with sufficient funding to perform inspection duties. Increased support is needed from the government for those institutions that are legally required to monitor the labour market for criminal activity.
International agreements on human trafficking shall be obeyed and an action plan confirmed and funded.
Kennitala-swapping in the operation of businesses shall be stopped in a clear and responsible manner.
Inequalities arising from place of residence shall be reduced by means of better transportation, equalization of housing costs, and other methods.
Flexibility in the timing of retirement shall be increased to make it a realistic option to reduce work or either leave the labour market early or stay in it longer. People doing hard physical or mental work shall be given the option of retiring early.
The Centre for Gender Equality shall be strengthened and its funding secured to follow through laws on equal pay certification, including inspections. Discrimination based on citizenship, country of origin or language shall be included in the equal pay certification.
Access of asylum seekers to the labour market shall be improved.
Agreed at a meeting of the SGS negotiation committee 10 October 2018.