Opið bréf til Sólveigar Önnu Jónsdóttur og Viðars Þorsteinssonar

Christina Milcher, fyrrverandi starfsmaður Eflingar, skrifar opið bréf til fráfarandi formanns og framkvæmdastjóra félagsins.

Christina Milcher á útifundi.
Christina Milcher á útifundi.
Auglýsing

Þrátt fyrir að það sé almennt við­mið hjá Kjarn­anum að birta ein­ungis aðsent efni á íslensku er gerð und­an­tekn­ing í þetta sinn. Ástæða þess er sú að um helm­ingur félags­manna Efl­ingar er aðflutt fólk og brýn nauð­syn að þau hafi fullt tæki­færi til að tjá sig um yfir­stand­andi mál á þann hátt sem þau telja að skili sér best.

Dear Sol­veig and Við­ar.

You like to pres­ent your­self as fight­ing for wor­kers, especi­ally immigr­ant wor­kers rights. For the longest time I saw you as such. I wal­ked side by side with Sóveig on the first 1st of May I ever attended in Iceland, both proud mem­bers of the IWW. Sól­veig and I shared the stage more than once, both fight­ing for the rights of work­ing class women and immigrants in Iceland.

I still saw you as comra­des when I joined Efl­ing, even though you were my bosses and ear­ned three times as much as I did. I was proud to be work­ing there, proud to be part of the renewal of the labour movem­ent and fully supp­ort­ing the B-list campaign and their goals. I was work­ing next to my other job, even­ings and week­ends, out in the cold, visit­ing work­places, sitt­ing in the vot­ing van and stand­ing on pickets. Little did I know that my comra­des would be submitt­ing me to work­place bullying and fire me on a whim just three months lat­er.

I still don’t fully und­er­stand why you decided the immigr­ant wor­kers, who had wor­ked for you tirel­essly in the wind and the cold to org­an­ise the strike as volun­teers or for minimum wage are the enemies now. I heard things about Face­book event descriptions you dis­li­ked and questions in the negoti­ation committee which made you uncom­forta­ble.

Auglýsing
You subjected me to a week of work­place bullying at the hands of your HR mana­ger and fri­end Berg­lind Rós. I had wit­nessed her scr­eam­ing at the for­eign wor­ker and board mem­ber who acted as my repres­enta­tive at HR meet­ings, until she was red­uced to tears. I was subjected to the same ver­bal abuse. My cowor­kers had been told I was not to be tru­sted and encoura­ged to “ice me out”. I was assigned only to tasks outside of my field of work and denied the tools I needed to act­u­ally per­form these tasks. I was neither told this was a disciplin­ary act­ion, nor how long it would last.

After a week Sól­veig deigned to talk to me. During our con­versation she sat on the couch sig­hing. Emulat­ing the abusive behaviour of powerful men and bosses she painted her­self as the vict­im, because she, the per­son in power, was being crit­icised for the abuse she was committ­ing. I cannot help but see both of you repeat­ing the same behaviour now.

After the con­versation the abuse cont­inu­ed, this time through both Viðar and Berg­lind Rós. I was called into meet­ings on short not­ice, mak­ing sure I could not arrange for a repres­enta­ti­ve. I was told I was for­bidden to ask anyone from Kjara­mal to repres­ent or even advise me. Pressure was put on me to leave one union (the IWW) and to give up my rights in the other (Efl­ing). Viðar infor­med me that he sees fit to restrict any staff mem­bers rights, guar­an­teed by the law of Efl­ing, accor­ding to his estimation of wort­hiness.

The abuse did not go unnot­iced. Board mem­bers not­iced and reached out to find out what was going on. Accor­ding to the law of Efl­ing I am obliged to truth­fully answer questions about my work­ing conditions when asked by officers of the union. So I did. It was my und­er­stand­ing that they found this instance of bullying trou­bling enough to bring in front of the democratic bodies of the union. In retri­bution for speak­ing with them, I was fired.

The mem­bers of Trún­að­a­ráð and the board, all immigr­ant wor­kers work­ing in minimum wage jobs and volun­teer­ing their time in the union, who had dared to speak up for me faced retri­bution. Previ­ously part of the B-list campaign, they were now called “a mob” by Víðar and had to end­ure reg­ular tira­des from him. Many of them were women, so Víðar started accus­ing them of being “fans” or “foll­owers” of the previ­ous head of the org­an­is­ing division, an immigr­ant wor­ker who had been fired wit­hout not­ice before me. One of the board mem­bers, a Pol­ish woman who had been part of the orig­inal B-list, had to engage a lawyer to def­end her­self aga­inst your threats. All these wor­kers left the democratic bodies and were replaced by a new set of immigr­ant wor­kers. Did you not stand aga­inst a cult­ure that views immigr­ant wor­kers as replacea­ble?

Auglýsing
We have seen the patt­ern repeat­ing again and aga­in. The office has been restruct­ured again and aga­in. Old wor­kers are bullied and fired wit­hout not­ice, new wor­kers are brought in and experienced the same. As the wor­kers in the Efl­ing office are also mem­bers of the Efl­ing union, they do not have a union to go to for help. Elected offici­als who dare to speak up for the wor­kers are pressured to resign. ASÍ, though aware of the problem, always decides to not get invol­ved. The power struct­ures are prot­ect­ing each other.

The wor­kers who came forward now are the second gener­ation wor­kers brought in by you. Just look­ing at the website, I count 19 office wor­kers hired AFTER I left, in addition to the 9 I know who came in with you. Most of these wor­kers have years of experience act­ing as repres­enta­ti­ves at their work­place and being act­ive Efl­ing mem­bers. Just like me, they had come to work in the office in the past 3 years committed to the goals of the B-list. All they wanted was to do so in a safe work environ­ment. We now have 3 differ­ent set of wor­kers, all tell­ing the same story.

You paint your­self as the und­er­dogs fight­ing aga­inst people of power, yet once you came into power you started to emulate the same abusive behaviour. You are not the vict­ims here. You are just one more story of bosses abus­ing wor­kers.

But there is hope here. A union is not one figurehead. The B-list was not two people. The board who is committed to create a rad­ical fight­ing union with an act­ive mem­bers­hip is still there. Trún­að­ar­ráð is full of act­ive wor­kers, ready to cont­inue the work of the union. The staff in the office is more than ready to go back to work and realize the orig­inal goals of the B-list. And the mem­bers are as moti­vated as they were when we stood on the pickets together in 2019.

The aut­hor was employed in Efl­ing as a staff mem­ber of Félags­svið Janu­ary - June 2019.

Skiptir Kjarninn þig máli?

Kjarninn reiðir sig á framlög lesenda. Með því að styrkja Kjarnann mánaðarlega tekur þú þátt í að halda úti öflugum fjölmiðli.

Við erum til staðar fyrir lesendur og fjöllum um það sem skiptir máli.

Ef Kjarninn skiptir þig máli þá máttu endilega vera með okkur í liði.

Já takk, ég vil styrkja Kjarnann!
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