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Workers on strike: Services grind to halt as fuel runs out, garbage piles up

People across the Faroe Islands are starting to feel the pain from the workers’ strike that began nine days ago as a growing number of goods can no longer be bought and more and more services cease to be provided, even services not directly affected by the strike.

Most public bus routes have been stunted by the strike but so far the ferry routes transporting passengers between the islands remain in operation although cargo transport has been affected, according to ferry and bus operator Strandfaraskip Landsins.

Meanwhile, the otherwise buzzing ports of Tórshavn, Fuglafjørður, Runavík and Klaksvík have gone eerily quiet, with no signs of neither loading nor discharging of cargo.

As transport and logistics services have taken a hit, grocery stores and fuel stations have seen their supplies dwindle over the past week. In grocery stores, among the first supplies to sell out have been potatoes, yeast and eggs, and many fuel stations can now only provide fuel to emergency vehicles. Both fuel station chains Magn and Effo currently offer an overview on their websites to allow consumers to keep track of availability.

With cleaning services and garbage collection directly affected by the strike, several schools and daycare centers have lately been forced to close due to conditions deemed unsafe by health authorities. Yesterday, Tórshavn Municipality announced that 15 daycare centers would be closed as of today plus another eight to be closed as of tomorrow.

“Tórshavn Municipality has consulted health authorities, who have informed us of the health risks originating from the accumulation of garbage bags outside our garbage containers,” a statement from the municipal council read. “Furthermore, garbage being accessible to birds and other vermin also poses a health risk.”

“Day care centers will open again once garbage collection resumes,” we’re told.

Meanwhile the strike is expected to drag on for weeks, with workers and employers currently no closer to finding any agreement than they were a week ago. According to union spokesperson Sonja Jógvansdóttir, the workers are ready to resume negotiations any time yet are prepared for a long wait.

“We can last for a really, really long while,” she told KVF on Wednesday. “We won’t back down from our incredibly reasonable demands,” Jógvansdóttir said, adding that the strike could possibly last for five to seven weeks.

After failing to reach an agreement with employers on higher salaries the unions Føroya Arbeiðarafelag, Havnar Arbeiðarafelag, Klaksvíkar Arbeiðskvinnufelag, and Klaksvíkar Arbeiðsmannafelag went on strike as of May 14th. The members of the unions include fish factory workers, construction workers, cleaning staff, bus drivers, security guards, street cleaners, garbage collectors, truck drivers, road maintenance workers, port workers, tunnel workers, warehouse workers, hospitality workers and more.


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