The Board of Efling´s Resolution on the Effects of The COVID-19 Epidemic

7. 04, 2020

Yesterday, 6 April 2020, the Board of Efling voted unanimously in favor of the following resolution:The working people of Iceland, many of whom are Efling members, have taken on heavy burdens due to the COVID-19 Epidemic. These burdens have taken many forms.Efling members, like many workers in the Icelandic labor market, are rarely able to work from home or arrange flexible work hours. Efling members must often work at the workplace during their appointed work times and are often working on the front line during this epidemic.Members have lost jobs. They have reduced job security, uncertainty and concerns about the future. Some members have received unlawful wage cuts by their employer. They have had to work with new and challenging conditions, risking their health and safety. Members with children face additional hardship due to reduced school operations.Despite the challenges, Efling members often work in jobs that are essential to society. Efling members safeguard the foundation of the community in many different careers, from the care of vulnerable individuals to food production and transport. The epidemic shows how important, yet undervalued their jobs are.The Board of Efling resolves the following:The agreed upon wage increase in April will not be taken back. This wage increase was the result of a long and difficult struggle, including strike action, which the union will never invalidate. The Board declares its support for the position expressed by the Chairman of Efling to the Icelandic Confederation of Labor (ASÍ) in this regard. The Board also rejects other reductions in the terms for Efling members, for example a reduction in pension rights to offset wage increases.The Board of Efling asks the public sector to promise to utilise all available options to support the labor market as necessary. There it is possible to look into widening the partial pay cut method and looking into a temporary reduction in employment insurance fees. Efling notes that corporate government assistance should come with reasonable terms and conditions so that money from the national funds is diverted to where it is truly needed instead of going to companies with strong finances and a history of sky high dividends.The Board of Efling is reminded of the status of individual groups that have been left out of the current government action. Workers over the age of 70 in the labor market should have access to reduced work ratio payments. The payments for reduced work ratio payments should be adapted to also benefit workers who work less than a 45% ratio. Parents who are forced to miss work due to reduced school operations should be entitled to benefits, as they are in Norway.The Board of Efling calls for an increase in unemployment benefits and for a widening of the terms. In particular, the Board calls for basic unemployment benefits to be increased, the period of reduced work ratio payments to be extended and the two week waiting period on basic unemployment before reduced work ratio payments begin to be stopped.Kjaramálasvið Eflingar has received verified information of corporate abuse of the reduced work ratio unemployment benefits. The Board of Efling condemns such abuse and calls for stronger government action against companies who abuse this system.The Board of Efling warns that unpopular matters should not be pushed through under the cover of darkness while all eyes are on the Covid-19 epidemic. The Board therefore restates its view on road taxes and emphasizes that work people remain vigilant against suggestions coming from the lobbying of special interest groups.The Board of Efling states the importance of solidarity among working people and within their organizations during this time.