The Icelandic Strike May Have a Negative Impact on Tourism
In October 1975, 90% of Iceland‘s women went on strike for one day to make the nation aware of their importance and demand equal rights with men – this marked the start of an historic movement which would drastically transform society over time.
Women’s strikes were an effective way to call attention to gender inequality in Iceland and ultimately resulted in the election of its first female president five years later. Therefore, this strike stands as a key political milestone and has inspired numerous instances of women’s collective action around the globe.
An ongoing strike by workers of Icelandic fish processing factories and hotels is disrupting supplies of fuel, which may have an adverse impact on tourism. The strikes follow negotiations breakdown between Efling union (the country’s largest union) and employers.
This labor dispute in North Atlantic country threatens to derail its economy as long-standing wage issues continue linger and threaten fuel and food shortages, as well as possible strikes impacting fuel supplies and food supplies.
This week’s strike by 700 hotel employees across seven Islandshotel locations in the capital area came as an unexpected development; previously most workers on the island had signed collective agreements with their bosses.
However, last weekend members of Efling trade union approved a strike over pay issues against their employers, beginning Monday February 27.
Reykjavik is currently experiencing a strike, which has had widespread repercussions across multiple industries and businesses in Reykjavik. Gas stations across Reykjavik are running low on fuel supplies and may run dry before the week is through.
Strikes have also affected other industries, such as fishing and fish processing. These sectors are especially susceptible to labor disputes escalation as they rely heavily on high-cost labor to keep operations running.
Tourism remains an economic cornerstone for Iceland despite recent disruptions, with this strike expected to last several weeks expectedly impacting some of Iceland’s key export markets as well as potentially delaying travel plans.
At its outset, the women’s strike wasn’t called that; rather, it was described as an “off day.” It marked one of the first times a national movement could effectively mobilize and take widespread action to protest wage gaps and unfair employment practices.
As a result, this event became immensely popular and received international media coverage, becoming an iconic moment in Icelandic gender equality history.
In 1975, Icelandic women held an historic one-day strike to call attention to their significance within society and usher in gender equality in Icelandic society. This momentous occasion is considered a pivotal step towards greater gender equality within Iceland.
The day was an unqualified success. It drew support from across society and cemented Iceland’s place at the forefront of equality initiatives.
Beginning as a radical women’s movement known as Red Stockings, which claimed that many aspects of Icelandic society needed addressing, including low wages for female workers both inside and outside the home, and how society valued women’s work outside its traditional domain.
Striking women hoped that by drawing attention to the issue through striking, people would take notice and eventually lead to passage of a gender equality bill in 1976.
Women across Iceland took part in this strike and rallied at Reykjavik’s Downtown Square where over 25,000 women came together for a large rally, while numerous towns and cities throughout Iceland also hosted rallies.
As a result of the strike, newspapers were not printed that day, theaters and schools closed or operated at reduced capacity; airline flights were cancelled; bank tellers had to hire male executives instead of women tellers; airline flights were cancelled as well.
Icelandic tourism suffered greatly as a result of this strike, one of its main moneymaking industries. Travelers had to adjust their plans accordingly and some even changed reservations or found accommodations elsewhere within Iceland.
There is also the issue of oil truckers going on strike, which could hinder gasoline supplies to the capital city and prevent tourists from driving their own cars.
Hotel workers in Reykjavik will also go on strike today; they have been asked to gather at the Gamla Bio theatre downtown where they will receive their strike pay and then join a march through the city.
The Floabandalagid and VR unions, representing workers in Iceland’s hotels, have been in talks with SA about wages and working conditions for months; these talks were recently suspended with both unions threatening strike action if no agreement can be reached with SA.
Alongside disruption caused by the strike, airlines are also experiencing other difficulties. Rescheduling flights and refunding passengers when their flights are cancelled or delayed is becoming increasingly costly for airlines.
Revenue for airlines is essential, and studies have revealed that airline revenues take a major hit during a strike.
Iceland relies heavily on foreign tourists arriving by air transport as an economic engine, with this sector producing around US $3.5 billion of GDP and supporting 72,000 jobs.
Airline strikes have the ability to have an enormously negative effect on Iceland’s economy, both directly and through tourism losses. They have direct monetary costs as well as potential negative repercussions for tourism in Iceland.
Gislason noted that more tourists are opting to explore Iceland beyond its capital city by staying in areas such as Reykjanes and West Iceland.
Though these changes might not be obvious to casual travelers, they have a significant effect on hotel operations and have forced hotels to take steps in order to continue operations during a strike.
Some hotels have turned to temporary workers as a cost-cutting measure during a strike, though this may mean hiring personnel without sufficient skillset to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
Reykjavik may experience disruption from a strike affecting fuel distribution at gas stations and other supply points, potentially altering tourists’ travel plans and negatively affecting Iceland’s economy during this time. Therefore, its vital that Iceland’s economy continues to thrive during such difficult periods.
Opinion polls and focus groups indicate a likely result. A tentative agreement may be reached soon between union representatives and airport management; if negotiations fail to go smoothly there could be further strikes in coming weeks.
Iceland’s tourism industry has experienced an astonishing growth over the past 10 years. Iceland witnessed an extraordinary spike in visitation numbers – from under 500,000 tourists visiting in 2010 to over two million international visitors visiting its seaports and airports by 2019.
Tourism helped the country out of an economic downturn, but its rapid expansion led to some troubling side effects. Due to increased travel demand for more expensive vacations, gas and food prices rose for both tourists and residents, further harming the economy.
Tourism quickly expanded as an employer in Iceland, employing more people than ever in travel and hospitality services. But its growth triggered growing concerns among Icelanders that its tourism had gone too far.
Many Icelanders are concerned that Iceland has fallen prey to tourism at the expense of its natural environment, prompting some locals to work toward restricting tourist access in specific locations.
Icelanders understand the need to conserve, so a majority of people in Iceland have an appreciation of environmental preservation. That means many places, such as hot springs and geothermal pools in Reykjavik area, remain off limits to tourists.
However, this is not always true of Iceland; some of the most stunning and picturesque regions have been devastated by overtourism, especially around Reykjavik.
Some locals contend it is up to the government to limit tourism in certain areas; others feel tourists should have the freedom to experience everything without damaging nature. Iceland has some of the strongest environmental standards in Europe; residents believe they should have the ability to protect areas they deem special and important themselves.
Fagradalsfjall volcano eruptions are one of the most captivating sights in Iceland, drawing both locals and international visitors alike. Their eruptions produce dramatic effects upon the surrounding landscape and are hugely popular with both groups.