At the beginning of the month, the news about the establishment of new Kópur trade unions, created for Poles working and living in Iceland, appeared on the web. Kópur unions are to operate in accordance with Icelandic law and its founders began accepting members in early August.
The unions of Kópur are still under development, and they got loud when the president of ASÍ (Icelandic National Inter-Union Organization), Dríf Snædal, was asked to comment on them.
In an interview with journalists, Drífa Snædal said that Kópur’s unions are not a member of ASÍ and admits that so far there has been no contact between the new union and the confederation. The news agency also reports that the new unions also do not belong to the Confederation of Icelandic Trade Unions / Starfsgreinasamband Íslands and the Icelandic Seamen’s Association / Sjómannasambandi Íslands.
“Our members, who are closely watching the Polish sites where labor market issues are discussed, informed us of this union and expressed great concern and demanded that we take a position and clear up the misunderstanding.” said Drífa Snædal.
The President of ASÍ (Icelandic National Inter-Union Organization) Drífa Snædal made the following statement:
Kópur is not a member of the National Inter-Union Organization (ASÍ), he is not a member of any wage agreement, VIRK, Bjarg, holiday, education or sickness funds.
The establishment of a new trade union, “Kópur”, is made public in an advertisement addressed in particular to Poles working in Iceland.
The information about the above trade union suggests that the union has access to all possible benefits and services for its members that the union movement has managed to earn over the decades, and even that the trade union has links to a Nationwide Inter-Union Organization. That’s not true. There are no links between ASÍ and Kópur and, to our knowledge, the Kópur Trade Union has not concluded any wage agreement. Kópur does not have an educational fund providing funding for educational purposes; does not have a sickness fund for members with long-term illness; is not a member of the Association of Housing Associations “Bjarg”, which offers a lower amount of rent and guarantees safe rental; is not a member of VIRK Vocational Rehabilitation and is not the owner of holiday houses.
Potential members of the “Kópur” Trade Union will not be able to take advantage of any of the above-mentioned rights, and will not have access to legal assistance or other specialist assistance that is usually due to employees as a member of trade unions. ASÍ asks that this information be disseminated as widely as possible in order to prevent workers from unknowingly waiving their rights, which the trade union movement has earned over the decades.
According to Drífa’s comment, the information about the Kópur unions says that the unions are members of the Icelandic Confederation of Trade Unions SGS and the Icelandic Seamen’s Union and therefore would have to be a member of ASÍ.
In today’s interview with the news agency, SGS president Björn Snæbjörnsson also denied that Kópur belongs to his association. He also added that so far no discussions have taken place between the unions.
In an official press release, SGS president urges workers to “beware of such invitations and not renounce their rights and benefits that have been created and secured by members of the union movement through years of struggle.”
Drífa also added that she had received information that some ASÍ members had moved to Kópur. The union registration process is very simple and takes place via an FB page where prospective members are encouraged to complete the registration form.
Kópur union chairman Stanley Pétur Kowal was unavailable today and his statement on the matter will be published tomorrow.
visir.is/ Marta M. Niebieszczanska