THE two sides in the Icelandic fishing dispute are to meet again on Friday – seven weeks after the strike began.
These are likely to be exploratory talks under the guidance of the state conciliation service, which summoned the meeting, and are expected to continue into next week, provided they can find enough common ground.
As reported on Fish Update yesterday, the unions and vessel owners are coming under increased pressure as the strike, one of the longest in the industry’s history, is now biting into the Icelandic domestic economy.
Hundreds of fish process workers have been laid off, while supplies to the UK and Europe have been seriously disrupted.
The country has almost run out of frozen fish stocks and limited supplies of fish are provided by the country’s small inshore fleet, which is not involved in the dispute.
So far, the new government has ruled out legislation to force a settlement, but there have been a number of calls for such action and if these latest talks break down again it may have no other choice.
But in public, at least, both sides are sticking to their entrenched positions. Valmundur Valmundsson, chairman of one union, Sjómannasambands Iceland, told Iceland’s national newspaper, Morgunbladid: ‘Nothing has changed for us fishermen. We are sticking to our requirements.’