This spring has been riddled with strikes here in Iceland. At first it was high school teachers, then airport staff and then pilots. Cabin crews have announced their intentions to join the fray as well as those which care for the elderly. A collective agreement with elementary school teachers was reached last night, avoiding a strike that was to begin today by an inch. The pilot strike has been squished with the parliament passing a law to ban it and the airport staff has come to terms with their government owned employer, a day prior to a similar law was due to be passed on their strike.
Unfortunately for everyone travelling to and fro Iceland, the pilots have not let the law fully stop them protesting their salaries. They refuse to work overtime, call in sick and so on. So over 90 flights have had to be cancelled over the last week; affecting around 12000 passengers. There are also rumours of the ground staff pitching in, I arrived back home on Sunday and there were very few shopping carts in the Duty Free store so passengers had to carry their items around the store before paying. It does not take a seasoned shopper to know that one cannot shop freely under such conditions, in particular when it mainly involves liquids.
I am not opposed to people being paid a fair salary. But I am very tired of strikes. I had just forgot how annoying they are as we have not had any strikes of consequence for about 15 years now.
But the real reason I cannot empathise greatly probably has to do with me always having worked in the private sector. There people can negotiate their own salaries as the employer is not bound by the limits of a government agreed agreement where the individual is categorised by their age, length of employment, education, etc. If I had I would probably be more inclined to understand the driving force behind such pressure tactics. There are no other options I guess.
Icelandic engineers went on a strike a long time ago. It was a total failure as no one really noticed. There has not been talk of a repeat since. Writers are unlikely to go on strike, although there was a protest day sometime early this year when all arts were banned. It was to show people how much influence they have on our lives. Funny thing is though, I do not remember this day at all or how it went down. Maybe it was so terrible I have blocked it from my mind.
But I think I have found the solution to this predicament. Instead of putting all passengers through the wringer, why not just take hostages? Ten people selected at random at the airport (preferably not locals – sorry) kept at some nice location within the country while negotiations are going on. This would bring pressure from abroad and no one need know that the hostages are eating lobster, surrounded by beautiful nature.
If any Icelandic pilot is reading this – please take this plan into action. Before Friday please.
Yrsa - Wednesday