The ASI Congress is the highest authority in the matters of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASI) and is held every other year. Each member union can send at least one delegate to the Congress. Three hundred delegates attend the Congress, representing wage earners from all over the country, meeting to set a policy and a work programme for the Confederation and to elect its leadership.
The purpose and basis of the
Iceland has, like the other Nordic countries, built its economy relying on free and open trade as well as a sound welfare system and collective negotiations to reduce the risk of individuals failing in their struggle for
But even though Iceland’s position in international comparison is generally good there are troubles looming. Social inequality has been growing in many fields. This development becomes apparent in various ways.
The cost of medicine and medical services for the general public has gone beyond any limit of tolerance. Opportunities for young people to obtain
The demand for secure and decent housing is a matter of course. A large and growing number of families and individuals are without housing or must for financial reasons make do with unacceptable accommodation. Furthermore, the public in general and
Active and general employment participation is an important basis for a welfare society. A considerable number of young people has not been able to gain
ASI 43rd Congress 2018 Agenda
ASI 43rd Congress 2018 Agenda
Wednesday 24 October
10:00 ASI President's address and opening of the Congress Minister’s address
Credentials Committee Opinion
Processing of Credentials
Election of Congress Officials
11:00-14:00 Presentations, short introductions to Congress issues,
First debates and referrals to committee
12:30-13:00 Lunch break
14:00 Address on Women’s Day Off
Thursday 25 October
09:00 Issues - Committee work
Income distribution and parity
Health services and welfare
Technological development and work organisation
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 – 14:00 President’s report and presentation of financial statements of ASI and its institutions
Amendments to bylaws: Introduction and first debate/referral to committee
14:00 – 18:00 Issues - Committee work
Work life balance
Amendments to bylaws
15:00 Coffee break
18:00 Congress adjourned
20:00 Evening programme
Friday 26 October
9:00 – 10:00 Continued committee work - Conclusion of proposals
Income distribution and parity
Health services and welfare
Technological development and work organisation
Work life balance
10:15 Voting begins *
Second debate and conclusion of issues
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Congress work continues
17:00 Congress closed
* Voting takes place as issues are concluded.
Income Distribution and Equality
The ASI 43rd Congress demands a society with fair income distribution, equal opportunities
There is a growing inequality in Western countries and in Iceland. This development is unacceptable. Inequality reduces social mobility, economic and political stability and has a negative effect on economic growth, the economy and future living conditions. It is an ongoing challenge for the
Worker tax burden has increased in recent decades. This development is most onerous for the lowest income group. The personal tax credit has not kept up with wage development and there have been cuts in child benefits and housing benefits. The fiscal plan reveals the government’s policy to weaken these systems even further, while at the same time people in the highest wage category enjoy the benefit of fewer tax brackets, low capital income tax and discontinuation of the wealth tax. Technological changes, increased automation,
New educational opportunities are a very important factor in providing more equal living standards, especially for those who have little formal education. In recent years the
A growing number of people live in difficult circumstances, with an overburdening cost of rental housing, and these are predominantly
There is a growing number of people who are vulnerable to violations of their rights by employers, and unions are increasingly fighting different types of criminal activity, systematic theft of wages, human trafficking within the
In spite of the
- The tax system
beused as an actual tool for social justice:
- Taxes on
low incomegroups be lowered, the personal tax credit belinked to rising wages and automatic tax increases on low incomegroups prevented.
- Housing and child benefit systems
bereinstalled and the policy to limit that support to those with the lowest income be cancelled.
- The highest incomes in society
betaxed with a separate high incometax bracket.
- A net wealth tax
belevied and the rate of the capital gains tax increased in order to achieve an acceptance by society and to counter increased inequality.
- Tax evasion
beaddressed with increased tax inspections.
- Users of joint resources
bemade to pay a fair fee.
- Taxes on
- Allocation of public funds must be increased giving people with little formal education opportunities to have their competence
recognised, obtain further education and in that way strengthen their position in the labourmarket. A methodology must be developed for deciding wages on the basis of validation of competence with respect to jobs.
- Immediate action
betaken to address the crisis in the housing market in order to provide everyone with reliable and good housing.
- Violations in the job market
bemet with improved legislation on the rights of employed persons and authorities use powerful measures and strict penalties with respect to violating companies, in cooperation with the labourmovement.
- A legislation
beset to stop false bankruptcies, having an immediate and real effect.
- Work to close the gender pay gap by all available means. The Certification of Equal Pay and a correct implementation of the Equal Pay Standard are important steps in this direction.
- Be a leading party in forming and implementing the
labourmovement's vision for developing the tax system based on the interest of workers.
- Press for increased financial allocations for the education of workers with little formal education and that a system
bedeveloped for validation of competence to include work and competence in wages.
- Public funding of non-profit housing foundations
- Provide leadership in keeping the authorities and employers on their toes in observing the Act on Certification of Equal Pay.
- Take the initiative in putting together guidelines for ASI member associations and shop stewards in accordance with the Act on Equal Pay Certification in order to ensure their effect on the implementation.
 There is a separate discussion of housing issues in another policy document/resolution.
 There is a separate discussion on housing issues in another policy document/resolution.
Work life balance
ASI’s 43rd Congress demands a society allowing for a fair balance between participation on the labour market, family responsibilities and private life. Integration of labour market participation and private life is a necessary premise for acceptable conditions at work and the quality of life to which all workers have a right.
A growing number of workers can no longer withstand the strain, speed and demands of today's labour market. At the same time they face the demanding task of caring for their children, spouses and parents. This includes young people tackling exacting jobs and family responsibilities, as well as those who are older and faced with changes and new demands in their jobs. People also have limited opportunities for leisure time, to rest and enjoy the good things in life. The result is increased stress and burnout, which can at the worst of times lead to serious illness and disability. This development must be acted on before it is too late. It is the joint interest of workers, industries and society as a whole.
The most important responsibilities in people’s life are work and family. It is a fact that women work more unpaid hours in the home and spend more time taking care of children than men do, even though female labour market participation in Iceland is the highest in the world. Women are constantly seeking more education and more diverse jobs. This is of great economic importance for society and is a large factor in Iceland’s prosperity. This arrangement calls for a changed gender roles at work and new ways of harmonising work and family life.
It is a major premise for Work-Life Balance as well as labour market gender equality that the maternal/paternal and parental leave system be strengthened. It is important to achieve as far as possible the objectives of the Act on Maternity/Paternity Leave and Parental Leave. Objectives that aim to secure for children time spent with both parents. The rights of single parents must also be protected and the gap in children's care, between maternity/paternity leave and kindergarten, must be closed. It is also of importance that schools, sports and recreational activities along with industries meet the needs of families with children in kindergarten and primary school.
Parents’ right to leave for taking care of and attending sick children must be reconsidered. Furthermore, this right needs to be extended to taking care of other family members, such as spouse and parents.
Labour market participation makes an ever growing demand on workers for more education and competence to meet changes and new challenges. Flexibility must be increased in order to meet these demands and workers given opportunities to attend educational programmes and continuous education during working hours without a loss of wages.
The population has aged and people's health is generally better than before. However, an account must be taken of the fact that job requirements differ and no two individuals are the same. It is important to address these different circumstances and allow for flexibility when it comes to worker retirement. That includes among other things the possibility of part-time employment and not linking retirement with a specific age.
• The effects of new technology and changes in jobs, such as unclear boundaries between working hours and private life, must not upset the Work-Life Balance.
• Maternity/paternity leave should be lengthened during the next 3 years and payments from the Maternity/Paternity Leave Fund increased with a special emphasis on low and middle income groups.
• All children must have a right to attend kindergarten and the gap in children's care between the Maternity/Paternity leave and kindergarten must be closed.
• Schools, sports and recreational activities as well as parents' rights in the labour market must reflect parents' needs as well as those of children in kindergarten and primary school. It is important to balance flexible working hours and childcare provisions for children in kindergarten and primary school. Children must also be able to partake in any recreational activities, irrespective of their parents' financial status.
• Parents’ right to leave for attending sick children must be reviewed. This right needs to be broadened as well, including taking care of other family members such as the spouse and parents.
• People need to be given an opportunity for further studies and continuous education during working hours, with sufficient flexibility and without reducing wages.
• Flexibility in the labour market needs to be increased and workers’ right to a time off from work for continued education, part-time work or other personal reasons must be secured.
• Workers need more practical alternatives when it comes to flexible retirement, taking into consideration different circumstances in the labour market.
• Press for a clear definition of work duties and separation of working time and private life.
• Demand a review of the Act on Maternity/Paternity Leave and Parental Leave on the basis of ASI’s objectives.
• Demand that all children be guaranteed a right to secure daycare.
• Press for schools, sports, daycare, recreational activities as well as labour market rights to better meet the needs of parents of children in kindergarten and primary school.
• Press for a review of the rules on parental right to take leave due to children’s illness in cooperation with ASI member unions, to be broadened to include taking care of other family members such as spouse or parents.
• Press for workers’ right to seek education during working hours without pay cuts, in cooperation with the ASI member unions.
• Press for negotiations to begin with the authorities and employers’ organisations on a framework agreement for flexible retirement, taking into account different circumstances in the labour market.
Technical Development and Work Organisation
The 43rd ASI Congress demands that new technology and changes in the industrial structure be made on the basis of workers’ interests and not those of large corporations, and that the labour market of the future offer opportunities for improved standard of living, reduced working hours and a secure livelihood.
The labour market and society as a whole are facing great challenges. Globalisation means societies become more and more international. At the same time, rapid technological changes, a growing platform economy, increased automation and application of artificial intelligence, as well as ever more financialised ownership of companies, are affecting workers and unions throughout the world. While strengthening workers’ position through these changes it must be ensured that the benefit of technological progress and increased productivity goes to workers and society as a whole, not only to corporations.
The effect of technological development on the labour market is not new, but the increased pace of change means the labour movement must be alert to the development. Some jobs will disappear, other jobs will change and new jobs will be created. It is of fundamental importance that new technology and changed industrial structure serve the needs of all employees. It is therefore necessary to make sure that tasks are divided in a manner providing all those who are capable with good and suitable jobs.
It is important to provide regular forecasts of manpower and skills, and a competence strategy must be made for Iceland. This strategy should present goals on how industries and the labour market should develop, both in the long term and in the short term and how to best achieve those goals. Creating such a vision is a common task for authorities, industries and labour organisation, as well as to develop policies for education, employment and labour market to further that vision.
Rapid changes in jobs and employment environment put an increased pressure on individuals to update and improve their skills throughout their working life. Education, continuous education and training will play a large part in securing worker status in the labour market in a world where constant change is the norm. Primary education and continuous education are a joint responsibility of society, companies, individuals, trade unions and employers. The needs of employees and industries must be met by strengthening professional and vocational training at all levels as well as ensuring a continuum in vocational training and education with increased allocations to the Workplace Training Fund. It is important in this respect to offer top level technical colleges and to develop competence validation at secondary school and university levels.
A rising level of education in the Icelandic labour market should be a priority, especially in rural areas. Those who have little basic education, those who have not completed a secondary education, those who are of foreign origin and individuals with occupational disability should be considered specially. Competence must be reflected in wages, whereby employees are encouraged to gain new knowledge and increase their competence at work.
Telework, internet work from home, casual jobs, increased contractor work, time-limited work and a less clear employment relationship along with inferior rights are challenges that unions throughout the world are facing. Even though the problems are not new their numbers have grown and their nature has changed with new technology and the advent of the platform economy (e.g. Uber, Deliveroo, Airbnb). Experience shows that there is an actual risk of this development reducing the security of employment and earnings.
Workers demand fewer working hours and less overtime without their pay being lowered. Technical progress, increased productivity and organisation of work have made fewer working hours and more flexible working hours a real option. Workers are entitled to decent wages for moderate daytime work. Wages for daytime work should be enough for workers to provide for themselves and their families.
• New technology, increased productivity and an altered industrial structure should serve the interest of workers and the general population.
• Work should commence immediately on preparing forecasts for manpower and skills, and forming a competence strategy for Iceland. This work should put forward a policy on how industries and the labour market are to develop, both in the long and in the short term as well as how best to achieve this policy.
• The needs of workers and industries must be met by greatly improving vocational education and training at all levels, including technical colleges and competence validation.
• A rising level of education in the Icelandic labour market should be a priority, especially in rural areas and for those with less primary education, people of foreign origin and individuals with occupational disability.
• Competence must be reflected in wages, whereby employees are encouraged to gain new knowledge and increase their competence at work.
• ASI demands a fair platform economy, respecting the right of all working people to decent wages.
• Any changes in employment relationships creating uncertainty and limiting worker rights must be resisted. Laws must also be set to strengthen the legal status of those who do telework, internetwork from the home, casual jobs and work as contractors.
• Regular working hours are to be shortened and overtime reduced without lowering wages.
• To lead and to form a policy and an emphasis for the labour movement when it comes to adopting new technology and a changed industrial structure.
• Be instrumental in having forecasts made for society’s need for manpower and skills, and a competence strategy set for Iceland and to lead that work.
• Lead debate and policy-making of member unions on educational issues and the labour market in light of technological development and altered industrial structures with a special emphasis on vocational and technical education.
o Protect, in cooperation with the member unions, specifically the interest of people in rural areas and those with little primary education, people of foreign origin and individuals with occupational disabilities.
• Push for strengthening of technical colleges and competence validation at secondary school and university levels.
• Form, in cooperation with ASI member unions, proposals for a mechanism and work procedures regarding the assessment of competence with respect to wages based on industry standards.
• Lead the debate and the labour movement emphasis on how to fight non-traditional forms of employment and press for legislation to secure the legal status of worker thus employed.
• Prepare proposals in cooperation with ASI member associations on how to secure union membership for people in non-traditional employment relationships.
• Lead debate and policy-making within the labour movement concerning measures and an approach for reducing working hours, taking into consideration different circumstances and expectations in the labour market.
• Map the success achieved in some countries with regard to organising those who work in the platform economy in unions.
The users of the platform economy must be made more aware that a fair platform economy can benefit both users and workers.
Health Service and Welfare System
ASI’s 43rd Congress demands a welfare society for all. A society where workers and the public at large enjoy a reliable, good health service and a stable welfare system irrespective of their financial position, residence or age.
Government allocations to the health sector in Iceland have lagged far behind population growth and a growing need for services in many areas. The foundations of the health care system have for a number of years been underfunded and undermanned while at the same time private-sector-based health services have grown fast and more funds go to
- Many people have to wait too long for necessary health care.
- Service levels are lowered in many rural areas and patients have to travel long distances at a considerable cost and lost wages.
- Patient cost for health care and medication can be a heavy financial burden or even insurmountable, and the authorities do not share the cost of important health care.
- There are more and more instances of individuals with serious diseases not receiving necessary medication.
- The result is that many Icelanders are reluctant to seek the health care they need.
A growing number of people are leaving the
The population is getting older and the number of senior citizens will grow fast in
Throughout their working
The disability pension system needs to be thoroughly reviewed. An approach based on
The fundamentals of the welfare society, such as access to good and free health service and reliable housing are specifically important for the elderly and the disabled.
Changes in the
- Everyone should have equal access to a good and vigorous health service irrespective of residence or financial position.
- The fundamentals of the public health system need to be strengthened and we must ensure that everyone has access to reliable local healthcare and necessary medication.
Profit seekingprivate-sector-based health and welfare services must be avoided and a clear boundary must be set between publicly and privately operated healthcare services.
- All Icelanders must be ensured access to
specialisedhealth services, including increased allocations for travellingexpenses.
- Patient cost participation for any kind of health service and medication must be reduced, in order to secure that no one
needdeny themselves necessary help.
- Preventive measures must be strengthened as well as support for individuals that need vocational rehabilitation.
- A programme of policy and action must be formed for the elderly, providing them with service and suitable living accommodation.
- The elderly and disabled must be secured a decent living and their opportunities for active participation in society must be increased.
- Linking social benefits to wages must be toned down and the
to reduce benefits for each krona earned must be abolished. practise
- Increase opportunities for people with
reducedoccupational ability to participate in the labourmarket.
- Support older people that are willing and able to participate in the
labourmarket and provide adequate flexibility for retirement.
- Linking social benefits to wages must be toned down and the
- Changes in how work is
organisedas well as less stable hiring forms, call for efforts to secure any compounded and built-up employee rights, such as sick leave, vacation andpension rights.
- To work with member associations on pressing the authorities to formulate a targeted policy for developing the health system, with the aim of providing all with a vigorous health service irrespective of residence and financial standing with the following actions:
- Strengthen the basic functions of the public health system and ensure that everyone has access to strong local healthcare.
- Ensure that all Icelanders have access to
- Reduce patient payments for any kind of health services and medication.
- Encourage collaboration of the Administration of Occupational Safety and Health, the Vocational Rehabilitation Fund (VIRK) and other relevant parties in order to boost worker safety, adopt preventive measures in the workplace and provide support for vocational rehabilitation.
- Demand a programme of policy and action for the elderly, providing them with suitable service and living accommodation.
- Call for extensive collaboration of the social partners, senior citizen interest groups and the disabled, and call for the authorities to bring about changes to social security laws in order to secure a decent living for the elderly and disabled and increased opportunities for active social participation:
- Aim to lower the curtailment within the social security system to 30% and abolish in full cutting benefits krona for krona earned.
Emphasisefurthering participation by those with reducedoccupational ability and that the elderly be provided with adequate flexibility for their retirement.
- Push for revision of the structure and accumulation of rights in the
labourmarket in light of changes in the organisationof work.
ASI’s 43rd Congress demands that the government provide workers with access to reliable and adequate housing, irrespective of residence and income, and calls on the state and municipalities to provide sufficient support for developing public rental apartments throughout the country.
There is tension in the housing market, among other things due to lack of residential housing, more and more apartments being rented to tourists and due to the high building cost. The authorities have neglected their social role in matters of the housing market and they have not ensured reliable housing for low income groups. These, along with the high interest rate and indexation, are the reasons why housing cost for workers is much too high. While the cost of housing rises, housing benefits have not kept up with the development of prices and wages, and in fact these benefits have been cut.
Workers are therefore faced with a challenging and inaccessible housing market where an unacceptable part of disposable income must be used to pay for housing. This is particularly hard on young people, those who are starting their first home and do not have many options. The result is that a growing number of workers are trapped in poverty, inequality increases, classes are divided and workload increases.
The Act on public rental housing was an important step towards securing the lowest income groups with access to inexpensive, reliable and adequate housing. On the other hand, more funds must be secured for initial capital contributions to speed up construction of a sufficient number of apartments for the large group of workers who are in need of housing.
There has been an ongoing debate on the housing loan system in Iceland which collapsed with the banks in the 2008 crisis. In fact the authorities have done nothing to facilitate public access to credit, in spite of ASI’s elaborate proposals for a new housing loan system. Pension funds have, however, taken a certain initiative with a large scale increase in direct loans to pension right holders, where interest is based on bond market rates. In fact the pension funds are implementing an important part of the Danish housing loan system whereby the public directly benefits from lower interest rates in the bond market.
ASI is of the opinion that secure housing is an important factor in promoting family welfare, and more stable and favourable conditions for children's upbringing.
ASI is of the opinion that reliable housing at acceptable terms, with regard to workers' ability and needs, will remove excessive workload on workers and give them time and opportunity to better balance family responsibilities, increase their education, offer them more diverse opportunities and a more fulfilling life.
ASI is of the opinion that there can be no concessions on demands for the quality and size of housing. Poor housing, too little housing or the development of specific areas for rental housing goes against ASI objectives in working for workers' interests.
Diverse and new ways should be sought to either give all Icelandic workers an opportunity to own their housing or have the opportunity to rent adequate and reliable rental housing for a fair payment and irrespective of residence.
ASI is of the opinion that there should be more authorisations in the public rental housing system and that sufficient funding must be secured. It is important to state clearly the legal obligation of municipalities to provide building sites for public rental housing.
ASI is of the opinion that the housing loan system needs revising in order to lower interest rates and the debt burden of housing loans. This to be achieved with direct pension fund participation.
ASI is of the opinion that young people should be obliged to save for housing with tax incentives to facilitate increased ownership in private housing and reduce housing cost.
Continue to be a leader in building public rental housing and forming ideas for a fair housing market and a durable and sound housing system.
Lead the member associations in their effort to increase authorised units in the public rental housing system from 600 to 1000.
Promote lowering interest rates on housing loans by demanding that a new housing loan system be adopted, based on the Danish system, banning the bundling of reliable housing mortgage debt with risky loans.
Work with the pension funds on starting up co-operative building associations that will create risk diversified funds in the bond market, and act as brokers for the general public’s borrowing and financing.
with an emphasis on fixed nominal interest rates,
providing a clear prepayment option at any given time,
loan-to-value ratio 80% of the purchase price,
minimising fees for management and brokerage.
Work with the authorities to create conditions for abolishing indexation.
Ensure that young people can use their supplementary pension scheme as obligatory savings when buying their first housing.
Promote starting up non-commercial housing associations to serve a growing group of wage earners with low average income but who are unable to apply for apartments in the p