Shop stewards

Shop stewards are contact persons between VR and the employer for the benefit of employees. The role of the shop steward is to be available to their colleagues, smooth communications with employers, communicate information and monitor that contracts are upheld in the workplace and that laws on the rights of employees are not violated.

The role of the shop steward is to know ways to resolve disputes, present changes and innovations and encourage members to seek information. All members have easy access to information on their rights on the website and at VR’s service centre. Through active participation, the shop steward can have a considerable influence on the development of the company and its operation.

Shop stewards are protected

The employment of shop stewards may not be terminated due to their work as shop stewards and take priority in employment in the event that the employer needs to reduce the number of employees.

Shop stewards add to their knowledge and skills

Shop stewards are entitled to attend a range of courses held by VR during working hours to add to their knowledge and skills. Daytime wages are not reduced while a shop steward attends a training course held by VR. The number of days an employee is entitled to paid leave for training courses is dependent on collective wage agreements. The entitlement, however, may never be less than one week per year. In companies with more than 15 employees, shop stewards are entitled to keep their daytime wages for up to two weeks during their first year.
If a shop steward is absent from work no more than one day per week, they can keep their daytime wages as well as supplements for up to ten working days per year.

Additionally, if a shop steward attends a full-day training course, they will not be required to work on that day.

VR regularly has seminars and lectures in English. Those are available for both shop stewards and other VR members. You can see what is available in English in the Event Calendar. For those shop stewards who seek further details in English they can contact and the contact person for shop stewards will assist upon request. Either individually or by gathering English speaking shop stewards together to get information in English regarding all the main things considering VR’s Wage Department and other services.

Shop stewards are elected representatives

Employees in each workplace elect their shop stewards for a term of two years. Elections are held in consultation with VR, and the shop steward receives confirmation of his election and power of attorney from VR. All workplaces with five or more VR members may elect shop stewards, and if they are more than 50 in number, they may elect two, if the number of employees at the same workplace exceeds 120, it is permitted to elect three shop stewards.

Please contact the VR service centre by calling 510 1700 if you would like to hold an election in your workplace.

Information of which shop stewards become aware in their work is confidential. Seeking the assistance of VR, however, is not considered a breach of confidentiality.

VR employs a broad range of experts that are always ready to help.

VR places considerable importance on shop stewards seeking the assistance of the union as regards any disputes that arise in the workplace that it can be of assistance in their resolution.

Who can become shop stewards?

All employees, i.e. those who are members of VR, can stand for election as a VR shop steward. Nevertheless, it is necessary to keep in mind the definition that applies to role of shop stewards in national law. Article 9 of the Act on Trade Unions and Industrial Disputes states that the role of the shop steward is to ensure “that work agreements are adhered to by the employer and his representatives.”

The representatives of the employer consist of the management personnel in the workplace. They are the shop stewards of the employer who has appointed them to manage the workplace on his behalf. It is important, therefore, to keep in mind that each workplace has employee shop stewards and employer shop stewards and that it is extremely inappropriate if a member of management, who is the employer’s shop steward, then stands for election as a shop steward for the union and the general employees. It is best, therefore, that the persons for whom votes are cast, or are nominated, are at all times only from among the general employees and not from among the “representatives of the employer”.

VR rules on the travel and accommodation costs of the VR Council of Representatives and shop stewards as regards meetings and education

Members of the Council of Representatives and shop stewards who attend meetings and/or courses held by VR and who are not domiciled in the Greater Reykjavík Area shall be paid travel and accommodation expenses according to the following rules:

  1. Flights must be booked through the offices of VR in the area in which the person lives, Egilsstaðir or Vestmannaeyjar.
  2. In locations where no flight transport is available, payments shall be 60% of the kilometre fee (+ road tolls).
  3. In cases where it proves impossible to travel back and forth on the same day, the union will be responsible for accommodation. The union must be notified 4 days in advance if accommodation will be required.
    In cases that are not covered by the above rules, payments must be specifically negotiated with the offices of VR.

These rules are applicable as of February 2017.

Provisions applicable to shop stewards are contained, on the one hand in the Act
on Trade Unions and Industrial Disputes No. 80/1938
on Working Environment, Health and Safety in Workplaces No. 46/1980
on Collective Redundancies No. 63/2000
on Workers’ Rights in the Event of Transfers of Undertakings
and, on the other hand, in collective wage agreements. (All information in Icelandic only)