Iceland: Strong signal for equal pay


The gender pay gap remains in the focus of attention of the labour movement in Iceland. On 24 October 2016, thousands of women left their workplaces at 2.38 pm to protest against the gender pay gap in Austurvöllur Square. That was the fourth time since 1975 that women in Iceland protested on that day.

The Icelandic Teachers´ Union, Kennarasamband Islands, KI, ETUCE member organisation in Iceland, together with the women´s rights movement and other unions encouraged women to leave work at 2.38 pm. The current gender pay gap in the country implies that women are not paid from 2.38 pm in comparison to men, based on the 9 to 5 working day. Women in Iceland only earn 70,3% of the average income their male colleagues receive and therefore have on average 29,7% lower income than men.

On the same day, KI also participated in a conference with the Icelandic social partners where the gender pay gap was the main topic. Along with introducing the future policy of the Icelandic government and social partners on equal pay, the Equal Pay Standard was introduced. The Equal Pay Standard is a management standard for equal pay and the goal is to facilitate employers to establish and maintain gender wage equality in their workplaces. KI believes that the tool will be useful in eliminating the gender pay gap. The social partners had agreed in year that the elimination of the gender pay gap should be immediate. Nevertheless, the progress has been slow.

The education trade union also emphasises that the pay gap between traditional professions, where traditional women´s professions are lower paid than traditional male professions. About 80% of teachers are women. Thus, KI’s affiliates are mainly women and the work on correcting the profession’s pay in comparison to other university educated professions is slow too. Therefore, advocacy for equal pay continues.