In response to coverage regarding the shortening of working hours and coffee-breaks

4. 04, 2019

In response to the presentation of the contents of the collective agreement between the member unions of the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS) and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) regarding changes in working hours, Efling – union would like to clarify the following:

  • The collective agreement which SA made with the member unions of SGS, the so-called “standard of living contract,” does not include any assurances for the shortening of working hours for workers in general.
  • The agreement contains authorization for discussions in workplaces and the de facto shortening of working hours, provided paid coffee-breaks also be suspended, partly or completely. Said authorization is similar to existing authorizations for limited changes in working hours, which were already in place in chapter 5 of the collective agreement with SA, the so-called “company-item of the collective agreement.”
  • The new agreement does not entail the transferal of the paid coffee-breaks of employees unless the prerequisites outlined in chapter 5 are implemented in their entirety, including thorough consultation with staff, a vote and the involvement of a union.

Efling and its fellow unions in negotiations steadfastly countered the proposals of SA regarding universal changes to the organization of working hours in the now concluded wage negotiations, because those changes would have resulted in a roll-back in wages. Efling unequivocally rejected proposals for the prolongation of the timetable of daytime work, the prolongation of the overtime settlement period and the general trading away of coffee-breaks. These proposals from SA were not implemented.The authorization of the shortening of working hours which are included in the new collective agreement are minor alterations to the conditional authorizations which already existed in the previous agreement and will only have an effect on a few work-places where an agreement is reached on such matters.