Any idea what the bus driver makes? PIC Michael Jessen

Any idea what the bus driver makes? PIC Michael Jessen

We got some pissed off people in Iceland right about now. Demands by local unions for a decent living wage across the line has been met with resistance stiffer than Ron Jeremy´s fellow member at work. Which is why major strikes have been announced and foreign visitors might get in harm´s way.

At time of writing the first strikes are taking place while others will soon follow as no compromise seems likely. Strikes will have dire effects on many hotels, tour agencies and tour operators as well as restaurants and other possible activities foreigners might want to try.[blockquote type=”blockquote_line” align=”right”]Yup, that´s about on par with McDonald´s workers in the United States[/blockquote]

Which is not good for you and in some cases might actually make your journey here downright dreadful. For instance, caterers and staff at major hotels will strike. Which might make it difficult to get much to eat after a day out.

We warned you some time ago this might happen and to take trips to Iceland in the next few weeks with that in mind but according to news reports few have cancelled their visit so far.

But before you blow a heart valve of indignation over the matter let us very briefly give you a couple of examples of the kind of wages people in the lower rung in the tourist industry make. That lovely staff meeting you and greeting at the famous Blue Lagoon has to make do with about 1800$ per month before 23% tax. Ditto that amount for most plain floor staff at many Icelandair hotels and restaurants. The driver of the bus taking you to and from Keflavik airport in his shiny airport express bus has to make do with about 10$ per hour. Yup, that´s about on par with McDonald´s workers in the United States. Except that McDonalds workers pay a lot less for food and necessities.We could also tell you about the few hundred “volunteer” foreign workers getting paid with food and shelter and nothing else in many places. And did we tell you all the above companies are paying really handsome dividends these days.

Yeah, it sounds a lot like conditions in the the U.S. and far removed from any Scandinavian dream. Factor in the high price of low quality products in local stores and you might begin to understand. Perhaps even root for the unions. You actually should. Few guides, drivers, waiters or stewards can for long provide great service after working two jobs for months or even years just to make ends meet. Even if they wanted to.

So, chill out 🙂