Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson, managing director of The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (Samtök atvinnulífsins), was today summoned to appear before the labor court on behalf of the organization because of the dismissal of Ólöf Helga Adolfsdóttir, union representative at Reykjavík Airport. Icelandair fired Ólöf without prior warning while she was engaged in talks with the company regarding the rights of her coworkers this summer. The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise have defended that decision ever since it was announced and they are defending the company in court.
The summons clearly details, with reference to records obtained from Icelandair and SA among others, how the dismissal of Ólöf was “directly related to her work as a union representative and a security employee representative”. Dismissals of union representatives are generally illegal in accordance with the law 80/1938 regarding unions and labor disputes, and a compelling reason is needed to bypass that provision of employment protection. The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise and Icelandair have not given any such reason.
The assault perpetrated by Icelandair, with the aid of The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, on the rights of their workers, first by firing flight attendants during their strike last year, and most recently by firing Ólöf, is a watershed moment in the conduct of The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise with regards to law and collective agreements.
Communication between labor and employers has hitherto been conducted on the basis that people are not penalized for defending their rights or those of their coworkers within the parameters of the established lanes of communication and with legal methods. The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise now seek to undermine this basis.
The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise and Icelandair both signed a joint statement on September 17th of 2020, where Icelandair said that it was “necessary for the future of the company to respect unions and the independent bargaining rights of its staff”. In the case of Ólöf, Icelandair and The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise have directly contradicted this declaration by their actions.
Ólöf has called upon Icelandair to retract the illegal dismissal and allow her to return to work with her coworkers. That challenge has been rejected. Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson, the managing director of The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise has refused to engage in a dialogue with Efling regarding this matter and has claimed that it is not one of his responsibilities. Halldór Benjamín has an opportunity to respond before the labor court.
The court case was filed today at 2.30pm in the Labor Court at Kópavogur. Ólöf Helga was present, along with Karl Ó. Karlsson, attorney at Efling and Viðar Þorsteinsson, managing director of the social affairs division of Efling.