SFR - Union of Public Servants

The SFR, a nationwide union of public servants, operates in two divisions, the public and the general.

The public division extends to individuals in public service who are not members of other unions. It also covers members of unions without own bargaining rights but affiliated to SFR and individuals employed by non-profit organizations working for the public good in accordance to law.
The general division covers individuals employed by companies working for the public good that were previously state institutions or non-profit organizations.
The State Employee's Union (currently the SFR Union of Public Servants) was established on the 17th of November 1939. While our founding members numbered 142, we now enjoy a membership of 5.400. Originally our members were primarily male office workers living in the Reykjavík Metropolitan Area. Currently the majority of our members are women (70% of member on the 23rd of July 2004), our members being active in many professions with diverse education and various backgrounds.

From the start the main objective of the SFR has been to improve conditions and job security for our members. At the same time the struggle for various rights has been fought under the auspices of our umbrella organization, the BSRB, the Confederation of State and Municipal Employees. Under the SFR's bylaws, all employees who work in areas covered by general wage agreement done by SFR, automatically become members and are obliged to pay membership fees. While a member may resign from the SFR, he/she is obliged to pay fees to the union under the General Wage Agreements of Public Servants Act.

Since the establishment of our union in 1939, there has been a considerable expansion of public services and the importance of public servants has grown accordingly.

State institutions are an important part of the welfare system that has been developed in Iceland since World War II. The objective of this welfare system is to guarantee all citizens certain rights and secure care when needed. The State also provides sectors of industry with various services of which private parties are not capable. These tasks are important for the public good and are carried out by the members of the SFR Union of Public Servants. The SFR has always been of the opinion that the State should serve to uphold a necessary balance in society, thus promoting the equal distribution of the national wealth and preventing discrimination against all citizens.

BAF 29.5.2002

BSRB Confederation of State and Municipal Employees

BSRB, The Confederation of State and Municipal Employees, of which SFR is a member, is the biggest union of employees in public service in Iceland. Its members work in the fields of telecommunication, postal services, customs, police, fire resistance, health care, education of pre-school children to name but a few. BSRB-members are employed by local governments as well as the state.

BSRB is a confederation of 28 unions. Since BSRB was founded in 1942 the membership has increased steadily and counts now aproximately 18.000 members, whereof two thirds are women. The total working force of Iceland is close to 150.000. The unions in BSRB have the collective bargaining right. Sometimes the unions bargain individually but often under the auspices of BSRB. Since 1986 the unions have the right to strike, although their right is subjected to more restrictions than apply to unions in the private sector.

BSRB brings together its unions in the struggle for a comprehensive welfare state. In previous years this has really been a battle, as funds for various welfare services have been slashed quite substantially. At the same time the right wing governments in power this decade have acted like the privatisation of public firms and intitutions is the solution of all problems in the Icelandic economy. Now there are plans to privatise the telecommunication and the postal service. BSRB has challenged privatisation for the sake of privatisation. On the other hand BSRB has not categorically rejected privatisation as such. SFR shares this position.

You can find information on social security rights and the social security scheme in Iceland as well as laws and regulations regarding the Icelandic labour market on the homepage of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the homepage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.