Successful organising among seasonal workers!

Successful organising among seasonal workers!

Temporary and foreign workers can also defend their rights!

This summer we, part of the new branch of the IWW in the North East, have organised in a tourism company. Like many in this industry we are foreign and seasonal workers. Often we do not know how the labour market in Iceland works and we are easily exploited. Many companies in the tourist industry take advantage of this.

Since the beginning of the season we discovered some irregularities at the workplace, including missing contracts, late schedules, long shifts and missing compensation for overtime and lack of rest time. After many conversations with our collegues who encountered the same problems we decided to work together with the main branch of the IWW in Reykjavik and the local union. We organised a meeting attended by the vast majority of seasonal workers. We went over our payslips and contracts, had a presentation about the collective agreement and voted for a representative. As a result of this meeting we agreed on three demands to be made to the company with deadlines for completion of each. The demands were: written contracts for every worker, a schedule for the following 4 weeks with one week in advance and correct payment of overtime hours and compensation for the lack of resting hours since the beginning of the season. Our representative handed the letter of demands to the boss.

The problems in the company were not new and many workers had complained individually before with little or no results, but after our collective actions our demands were accepted and most have been met. There also has been a change of the attitude among the workers: not only have there been no repercussions against us, united we feel stronger at the workplace.

Now the season is ending and many of us are leaving, but even though we achieved our goals, our organising work is not finished. We want to propose some ideas for the upcoming negotiation for the new collective agreement to the local union. May our actions serve as an inspiration to other workplaces, as we know our problems are shared by many other workers in the tourist industry and we hope we can also share our success.

Feel inspired to organise at your own workplace? We are happy to help! Contact if you are in the North East or for the rest of Iceland.

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