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HomeSocial IssuesWorkers’ strike hits Faroe Islands with potentially serious implications

Workers’ strike hits Faroe Islands with potentially serious implications

Four major workers’ unions in the Faroe Islands have gone on strike as of Monday at midnight after failed negotiations on higher salaries for their members. The strike is generally deemed to be of a serious nature with the potential to cripple a wide range of business activities and functions for weeks as well as to affect supplies. 

On Saturday, unions Føroya Arbeiðarafelag, Havnar Arbeiðarafelag, Klaksvíkar Arbeiðskvinnufelag, and Klaksvíkar Arbeiðsmannafelag, collectively rejected a proposal from mediators and announced a strike to come into effect as of May 14th at 00:00 hours.

“The draft settlement is so far away from our minimum demand that we decided immediately to reject it,” the unions said in a joint statement. “Our members deserve a proper raise,” they added.

“The workers’ strike applies to all members and all fields of work within our contract agreement,” the unions announced. “These are workers at, for example, fish factories, including pelagic and salmon processing plants, 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.”

In an update on Monday, the unions explained that a few categories are not included in the strike, specifically people working with salmon farming at sea or on shore, including their foremen. Likewise municipal daycare workers were specified as exempt from the strike, as were security guards working for security providers.

According to public ferry and bus operator Strandfaraskip Landsins, the strike will affect certain bus routes, however exceptions have reportedly been given to allow ferries to transport passengers as usual. Cargo transport, however, is affected, we’re told.

According to CEO Niels Mortensen, of shopping mall SMS—the owner of grocery stores Miklagarður, Bónus and Mylnan—people can expect supply chain disruptions for both foods and non-food items.

“Over the past couple of weeks we’ve ordered extra supplies, but of course there are limits to how far we can go,” Mr. Mortensen told broadcaster KVF, adding that if the strike drags on for several weeks, store shelves will likely start to become less than full.

Observers expect the strike to drag on for weeks, with the government set to getting caught between a rock and hard place. Exposed to growing pressure to eventually step in to put an end to the strike while, at the same time, facing the risk of political ramifications—the government could be looking at a situation of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”


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