Icelandic seafood company Icelandic Group has come under the spotlight for its alleged attempts to circumvent new UK minimum wage requirements by reducing overtime rates.
According to the Federation of General and Special workers in Iceland (SGS), Icelandic Group’s Grimsby operation, Icelandic Seachill, has sought to reduce overtime rates to offset the requirement to increase the minimum basic wage, a move that SGS described as giving with one hand and taking away with the other as Icelandic Seachill seeks to re-negotiate staff contracts on an individual basis.
‘Unions in the area are concerned that other companies will choose to follow the same strategy with others using the increased minimum wage as a basis to re-negotiate with fish workers in the area. SGS has already responded by requesting a response from Icelandic Group, which is owned by the Iceland Enterprise Investment Fund,’ said SGS, adding that the Iceland Enterprise Investment Fund is in turn owned by a group of Icelandic pension funds.
According to SGS those staff who have declined to agree to reduced overtime rates in a job in which 10 to 20 hours of overtime each week is a requirement have been told that they have to renegotiate or face losing their jobs.
‘SGS has reiterated the position of the unions [in the area] that agreements must be reached with the fish processing staff. It is is unacceptable that an Icelandic company should behave in this way towards its workers, regardless of whether this is done here [in Iceland] or elsewhere,’ said SGS.