Iceland. At the beginning of the year, Iceland’s Nature Conservation Association sued the Minister of the Environment for approving a large power plant construction, which threatens untouched nature in eastern Iceland. The Kárahnjúkar power plant is intended to supply electricity to Europe’s largest aluminum smelter, planned by Norsk Hydro. However, the Norwegian company withdrew from the project during the year and new investors became the US aluminum giant Alcoa. The opposition party Left-The Greens harshly criticized the government’s agreement with Alcoa. When Allting opened for the fall, several hundred Icelanders demonstrated against the start of the power plant construction.
In the municipal elections in May, Prime Minister Davíð Oddsson’s Independence Party returned. In Reykjavík, the center – left-winged Reykjavík Party (R-list) gained its own majority. When President of China Jiang Zemin visited Iceland in June, he was met by major demonstrations against the oppression of human rights in China. Prior to Jiang’s visit, Icelandic authorities refused entry for some foreign followers of the Falun Gong meditation movement, which is banned in China.
During the year, NATO held a historic Foreign Minister’s meeting in Reykjavík, inviting Russia to cooperate more closely through the new so-called NATO-Russia Council.
According to Countryaah website, national day of Iceland is every June 17. The International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting in May was a setback for Iceland, who was again refused membership as the country did not want to accept the Commission’s ban on whaling. Iceland was very critical of the Swedish chairman of the meeting. When the Commission held an additional meeting in October, Iceland’s membership application was approved with an overweight vote. It turned out that the Swedish delegation voted yes to Iceland’s membership, contrary to the political instructions from Stockholm. The membership was seen as a great success for the Icelandic government, which is expected to resume commercial whaling in 2006.
In most cases, the co-operation laws were created to displace established merchants. With the Progress Party’s special commitment to the collaboration laws, it became the main enemy of the grocery store. This struggle was also linked to other conflicts of interest such as fisheries/agriculture and city/ country. In the post-war period, these contradictions have become less attached to the parties and play a minor role overall.
To the extent that municipalities and the state have entered into economic activity, this has usually happened when private individuals did not strike. Public engagement has therefore not led to a major struggle with specific private interests. The disagreement over public production and other economic activity has been primarily political and ideological. Business activities at state or municipal level have, of course, hampered private enterprise, but through the Independence Party, the traders often included their representatives in the management of the municipal or state enterprises.
Strikes were the most important weapon in the fight for collective bargaining. Since 1938, the form of agreement has been regulated by law and the right to strike is statutory – only in 1977 for public officials. Membership of unions has gradually become a condition for getting a job. The wartime years gave wage workers organizations their breakthroughs due to the strong demand for labor. In defense of inflation, provisions were made that wages should be adjusted in relation to the cost of living. During the post-war period, wage-earner organizations have been fighting such indexation. It has worked for a large part of the period, often across fluctuations in the ability to pay among the exporting companies.
Throughout the post-war period, the state power has been almost constantly striving to counteract these provisions and reduce ordinary purchasing power by modifying or undermining wage agreements between workers ‘and employers’ organizations. The agreements have only in the short term changed the purchasing power of the employees or changed the profitability of the companies. Trade unions led by socialists/communists are eager to lead with demands for automatic indexation of wages. They have received support from union leaders from other parties. The lowest paid workers are at the forefront when it comes to wage struggles, while other wage earners are usually followed and received the same percentage increase.