Iceland Symphony Orchestra to go on strike?

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra will go on strike from Thursday if its members cannot agree a new pay deal.

Meetings will be held today and over the coming days to break the deadlock. Runar Oskarsson, the chairman of the symphony orchestra members’ union negotiating committee, says he is neither positive nor negative about the prospects of a deal before Thursday. He would not be drawn to say more than that, RUV reports.

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra is an independent public institution under the Ministry of Education and its members are, therefore, technically public sector employees. The Icelandic state has subpoenaed the orchestra union over whether or not the threatened strike has been organised in a legally-accountable manner.

It is expected that the labour court will make its decision before the strike is due to begin.

The idea of a symphony orchestra going on strike may seem almost humorous to some; especially in comparison to strikes by fire fighters, teachers or air traffic controllers. But the Iceland Symphony Orchestra is central to musical culture in Iceland and it was a core reason for the construction of the brand new Harpa concert and conference centre. It is also considered one of the best orchestras in the entire Nordic region. Against this backdrop of investment and pride in the orchestra it is noteworthy that its members have been out of contract since March 2009. Their goal going into the current negotiations is to receive a 36 percent pay increase.