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Dismissed from Fisherman's Union Due to Fear of a Socialist Uprising

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Dismissed from Fisherman's Union Due to Fear of a Socialist Uprising

Heiðveig María has been dismissed from the fisherman's union Sjómannafélag Íslands.Photo: Stöð 2 screenshot

Fisherman Heiðveig María Einarsdóttir has been dismissed from the fisherman's union Sjómannafélag Íslands due to union leaders' worries of the upsurge of socialists in Iceland, according to Vísir. Heiðveig María had been preparing a campaign to become president of Sjómannafélag Íslands before union leaders dismissed her from the union. Union leaders claim that Heiðveig has been working against the interests of the union, and claim that her planned campaign to run for union leader is part of a socialist uprising in Iceland.

A socialist upsurge?

News outlet Vísir has obtained an extensive memo connected to the dismissal of Heiðveig which highlights the dangers of the upsurge of socialism in Iceland. The memo includes screenshots of news articles related to the supposed upsurge. "A substantial shift has taken place in politics and labour movements recently and a new leadership has been elected. Elections in [unions] VR and Efling as well as the Reykjavík City Council have raised attention, and the Sósíalistaflokkurinn (The Socialist Party of Iceland) has been especially noteworthy. The office of Sjómannafélag Íslands received phone calls in the fall of 2017 from Gunnar Smári Egilsson about the timing of elections in the union", part of the memo read. Gunnar Smári Egilsson is the founder of the political party Sósíalistaflokkurinn, which was founded in 2017 and received 6.4% of the votes for the Reykjavík City Council in the past city elections.

The four men who signed the memo accompanying the proposition for Heiðveig's dismissal are Arngrímur Jónsson, Jón Bragason, Steinþór Hreinsson, and Steinar Haralds. The memo states they believe that the Sósialistaflokkurinn planned to take the controls of the union by instating Heðveig as the president of Sjómannafélag Íslands.

Destroyed merger and a damaged reputation

The union Sjómannafélag Íslands was founded in 1915, originally named Hásetafélag Reykjavíkur (Deckhand Union of Reykjavík), before changing its name to Sjómannafélag Reykjavíkur and finally became Sjómannafélag Íslands in 2007. The union has around 500 members and is not a member of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour, rather standing on its own. There were plans afoot to merge Sjómannafélag Íslands with four other fisherman's unions around the country.

The confidant's council of Sjómannafélag Íslands decided to dismiss Heiðveig from the union on the basis that she damaged the union's work as well as its reputation. The confidant's council of the union believes that Heiðveig damaged the proposed merger between the five unions. Eighteen of the twenty-three confidant's that voted on the matter voted for the dismissal of Heiðveig, while four were opposed and one member decided to abstain from voting. She was dismissed based on a paragraph of a law in the union's law which allows for a dismissal of union members that work against the interests of the union.

Heiðveig seeks justice

Heiðveig is considering her next course for action, and is considering seeking justice within the legal system. As Sjómannafélag Íslands is not part of the Icelandic Confederation Labour, there is no clear way to appeal the case as of now. Sjómannafélag Íslands is however a member of the International Transport Workers Federation as well as the Nordiska transportarbetere federation, which might offer avenues for Heiðveig to make her case.

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