Icelandair attacks a union rep and workers’ rights

7. 10, 2021
  • Ólöf Helga Adolfsdóttir, Efling union rep at Reykjavík Airport, was fired in the midst of discussions about her colleagues’ rights. 
  • Unexplained allegations about a “serious breach of confidence” were made at a staff meeting in her absence. 
  • Ólöf is trusted and respected by her colleagues, who demand that her firing be withdrawn. 
  • This is the second time Icelandair breaks fundamental workers’ rights within one year. 

Icelandair hf. has fired the Efling union rep at Reykjavík Airport, Ólöf Helga Adolfsdóttir, during her discussion with the company about workers’ rights. Ólöf has worked in baggage handling at Reykjavík Airport since 2016 and been union rep since March 2018. Ólöf was also security rep. 

No explanation was provided in her letter of termination. After Ólöf was notified verbally of her termination, her colleagues were called to a staff meeting where management alleged that Ólöf, who was not present, had committed a “serious breach of confidence”, which wasn’t explained further. No explanation was made in an interview about the reasons for the termination about this alleged breach. 

Ólöf is trusted and supported by her colleagues, who have signed a statement in her support. They set it to Bogi Nils Bogason, CEO of Iceandair. They have met regularly to react in the matter. Bogi has not responded to their statement. 

SA, the employers’ association, has managed the case on behalf of Icelandair. SA director Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson and ex-manager at Icelandair, has declared his support for the termination. 

The lawyer and Delegate Council of Efling have sent their objections to Icelandair and demanded that the termination be withdrawn. Ólöf has declared herself ready to return to work and drop the case if this is accepted. The demand has been rejected by both Bogi Nils Bogason, Icelandair CEO, and by Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson on behalf of SA. 

Ólöf’s bosses have claimed they didn’t know about her position as rep. The same bosses still referred to her as union rep in email communications and titled her as such on the company’s internal website. Efling has documents confirming this. The Health and Safety directorate has confirmed that Ólöf’s bosses announced her nomination as security reps themselves. 

Ólöf enjoys legal protection against termination, both as union rep and security rep. Termination and threats of termination are also illegal, when used to discipline workers for participating in union work. 

This is the second time inside of a year that Icelandair breaks workers’ social rights, with the declared support of SA. SA and Icelandair signed a joint statement along with ASÍ and the Cabin Crew Association after Icelandair used layoffs as a weapon in collective bargaining. In the statement, published on September 17, 2020, the breaches were regretted and it was declared that workers’ rights and good communications between social partners would be upheld. 

The case of Ólöf will be brought to court, but the attention of the public will also be drawn to the conduct of Icelandair and SA in it. 

A website has been launched with further information on the case, along with interviews, including one with Ólöf herself. See here.