The laws of VR
Article 1 Name, area of operation
The name of the union is VR, and it is the labour union of employees in commerce, services and offices. Its area covers the legal venue of Reykjavík, Kópavogur, Hafnarfjörður, Garðabær, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Kjósahreppur, Vestmannaeyjar, Árnessýsla, Rangárvallasýsla, Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla, Húnaþing vestra, Akranes and vicinity, Langanes region, Vopnafjörður county, Borgarfjarðar county, Seyðisfjörður town, Fljótsdalshérað region, Fljótsdals county, Fjarðarbyggð region, Breiðdals county and Djúpavogur county. The residence and venue of the union is in Reykjavík.
Article 2 Object
The object of the union is to strengthen and support the interests of commercial, service and office workers in the area where it operates by working on the advancement of issues that may improve the rights, culture and conditions of wage earners in the country.
The union concludes wage agreements for its members and represents them with respect to public authorities as well as others regarding the interests of its members.
Article 3 Membership
The union is open to all commercial, service and office workers.
Membership is open to those who work in the area of operation of the union as wage earners or are independently employed in the labour market.
Members who lose their jobs in the labour market can continue as members in exchange for the payment of union dues out of payments from the Unemployment Insurance Fund where it acts as intermediary in deducting the dues and remitting to VR. If they are not members of VR at the beginning of unemployment benefits, they need to have paid dues to VR not less than 36 months over the past five years before the application of unemployment benefits.
Members who stop working in the labour market due to a disability can continue as members but do not have the right to stand for office in the union, and they must pay dues to VR that are to be deducted from such pension funds that offer intermediation on remitting dues to unions. They need to have been members of VR for an uninterrupted period of five years before the onset of disability, and the payment of dues must commence in this manner no later than within 12 months from the first date of payment of disability benefits.
Older members who receive benefits and have been in the union not less than five years before receiving pension benefits, at the age of 67, shall continue to be viewed as VR members but cannot stand for office. Those members who choose to accept benefits at the age of 65 can maintain their rights by paying dues out of their pension benefits from those pension funds that offer intermediation for remitting dues to unions up to the age of 67. They must have been members not less than for 5 uninterrupted years before the commencement of pension benefits.
The rights accorded by membership in respect of all of the above are subject to the further rules of individual funds of VR.
Those who temporarily cease work due to studies or illness can use rights already accumulated at the time of entry, subject to further rules of the union.
Those who can become full-fledged members are:
Those who have reached 16 years of age.
Those who are not in debt with the union or other unions.
Those who are paying or have paid minimum union dues over the past 12 months, cf. Article 9, subject to the exceptions provided for in these laws, and who have confirmed their membership in the union according to further provisions of these laws.
Young people can become members even if they have not reached the age of 16, but they cannot stand for office in the union.
A self-employed worker is defined as one who is obligated to assess for him/herself imputed wages according to the decision of tax authorities, in addition to those who are registered as wage earners in their own enterprise, since they thereby have a controlling position due to their ownership and management participation. Those who are self-employed, and/or a family member of the person running an enterprise, and are considered to have a controlling position, shall always have their dues paid up to date if services are sought from VR or rights sought from the funds of the union.
Article 4 Entry into the union
Applicants for union membership shall seek admission to the union with admission requests or by paying membership dues. The membership of new members shall be confirmed annually by the office of the union, and the union shall send a notice to the person concerned confirming admission to union membership. If the person does not object to membership within 30 days from the date of the notice, he/she shall be viewed as a union member. There is no need for a special confirmation if the person concerned has previously paid to the union.
As regards the dues of those who elect not to become union members, the provisions of the wage agreements of the union shall apply in each instance. If there should be doubt regarding the rights to membership, the Board shall decide. Such a decision may be appealed to the Consultative Council. New members and those self-employed wishing to become members are obligated to provide information on their area of work, estimated income and documentation from public authorities in confirmation of income, if so requested.
Article 5 Rights and duties
The rights of members are the following:
The right to speak up, table motions and vote at meetings of the union. The right to vote on wage agreements of the union is limited to those who work under the agreement put to a vote in each instance.
All full members have the right to stand for office in the union, with exceptions listed under Article 3.
The right to grants and payments from the funds of the union in accordance with their rules.
The right to perform the work covered by the respective wage agreements.
The right to use joint properties, subject to further rules and regulations of the union, such as vacation houses, camping wagons, etc.
The right to assistance from the union if employers do not fulfil employment terms.
The duties of union members are:
To observe the laws of the union, the rules order of meetings, meeting resolutions and in all respects the agreements that the union has entered.
To pay union dues.
Article 6 Cancellation
The cancellation of union membership shall be in writing and sent to the office of the union. No one can cancel membership after a wage dispute has been referred to the State Conciliation and Mediation Officer and an agreement has been reached. It is also not permitted to cancel membership in the union in order to enter into work performed by union members of the Federation of Store and Office Workers or the Federation of Labour who are on strike in a wage dispute.
Persons who cease working as a wage earner in commerce, services or offices or begins employment under auspices of other unions, shall be removed from the membership register.
Article 7 Removal
The Board of the union can remove any person who in its opinion breaks the laws of the union, its agreements with employers or works against its interests. The decision of the Board may be referred to the Consultative Council. A vote of two-thirds is needed for such a removal, whether in a meeting of the Consultative Council or at a Board meeting. A removal shall not be applied unless the faults are grave or in case of violations that previously had been repeatedly reprimanded.
Article 8 Honorary members – gold medal
The Board of the union is authorised to choose an honorary member and award the gold medal of the union. Honorary members are exempt from dues.
Article 9 Dues
The annual general meeting determines the dues in each case. Nonetheless, it shall be permitted to collect a percentage of pay on the same basis as premiums for the Pension Fund of Commercial Employees and decide upon minimum union dues.
Article 10 The Board
The Board of the union shall consist of 15 principal members and three alternates. The chairman shall be elected for a term of two years. Other principal members shall be elected 7 at a time for a term of two years, thus 7 members alternately leave the Board each year. Alternates shall be elected for one year at a time. If a Board member leaves employment in commerce, services or offices or begins employment under the auspices of another union, a member shall be elected in his/her place at the first Board meeting thereafter. The Board elects a vice chairman and secretary and allocates its tasks in other respects.
Article 11 The qualifications of Board members
Board members according to Article 10 and, as applicable, Board members of funds according to paragraph 3 of Article 26 shall be in financial majority and may not, in the past 5 years, have suffered a judgement for a punishable offence. Board members may not own more than a 5% share in a company operating in the area covered by the union. Board members who cease to qualify according to the above during the term of office are automatically and immediately removed from the Board and replaced by their alternates until qualifications are satisfied anew. Candidates for the Board of VR shall fulfil the above qualifications before the candidacy deadline, cf. 20.3.
If disputes arise regarding qualifications, the Board of Elections shall decide.
In the deliberation on individual issues, a Board member shall vacate his/her seat if he/she has a vested interest that may conflict with the interests of the union.
If a Board member loses his/her qualifications during his/her term of office, he/she shall immediately resign from the Board of VR. The same rule applies to other elected representatives serving on the Boards and Councils of the union.
Article 12 Activities of the Board
The Board of the union governs all the activities of the union between annual general meetings.
The Board shall see to it that the policy for the union and activity is at all times in good condition and in accordance with the law of the union.
The Board is responsible for the finances and assets of the union and makes all major decisions pertaining to finances. It shall see to it that the finances are generally in good condition as is the bookkeeping and the handling of funds.
The Board supervises the work of departments or sectors that are in operation or may come in to operation in the future.
The Board shall hire a manager and entrust him/her with the daily operation of the union’s office. The chairman of the union may be hired as manager. The manager hires staff and negotiates their emoluments. The salary committee proposes pay and emoluments of the chairman and manager, subject to the approval of the Board of VR.
Article 13 Board meetings
The Board holds meetings as often as needed, and all meeting activity shall be recorded in a special book of minutes. A meeting is lawful when a majority of Board members attends a meeting. The chairman convenes meetings and chairs them. The chairman sees to it that a book of minutes is kept and preserved in a safe manner.
The vice chairman takes up the duties of the chairman in his/her absence.
Meetings must be held if at least 4 directors so request. A majority of votes dictates the resolution of issues.
Article 14 Consultative Council
The union shall have a Consultative Council that shall act as an advisory body regarding larger issues that may arise in the course of the work of the union, such as the negotiating of wage agreements and major projects of the union. In addition, the Consultative Council shall perform other duties dictated by these present laws.
The Consultative Council shall consist of the Board, the departmental boards that are created with the merger of other commercial employee unions of the regions and 82 representatives elected in a general election for a term of two years at a time. The chairman of the union is also the chairman of the Consultative Council, and he/she convenes it to a meeting at least 4 times a year and as needed.
Article 15 Departments
The Board of the union is authorised to operate departments within the union by professions/sectors and regions. The role of a department is, inter alia, to promote the joint interests of employees in professions/sectors and regions, support their education and deal with wage issues for the professions/sectors and regions. The Board of a department is elected at a departmental meeting. A departmental Board is composed of not less than 3 members who divide tasks amongst them, and alternates shall be equal in number. The term of office is 2 years. The departmental Board can receive funds pursuant to the further decision of the Board of the union to use for purposes of education and culture within the profession. A department shall set further rules of operation for itself that the Board of the union confirms.
Article 16 Shop stewards
The chairman, on behalf of the Board of the union, confirms the choice of shop stewards in workplaces and ratifies their appointment with a letter of instruction that they shall comply with.
Shop stewards shall monitor that the laws of the union, its decisions and agreements are adhered to.
Shop stewards are the intermediaries of employees in the workplace concerned with the Board and employees of the union. In all other respects, the work, rights and obligations of union representatives are governed by law and wage agreements.
Article 17 The Negotiation Committee
A Negotiation Committee shall be active in the union. The Negotiation Committee represents the union in wage negotiations. The Board of the union is its Negotiation Committee as well. The Board is authorised to convene other members to sit on the Negotiation Committee if needed. In the negotiation of special wage agreements, workplace or company agreements, the Negotiation Committee is authorised to appoint a smaller Negotiation Committee.
The claims prepared for the principal wage agreement shall be put to the Consultative Council for approval before being presented in negotiations.
Article 18 A general vote
A general vote shall take place when:
1. The Board and Consultative Council are elected.
2. A vote to strike takes place. In cases where a strike is limited to a certain group of members or employees at a particular workplace, the decision to strike is authorised to be taken with the votes of those affected thereby.
3. The intermediation proposal of the State Mediator is voted on, as applicable.
4. When the Consultative Council or a lawful union meeting agrees to a general vote in the union.
General votes shall be secret amongst union members pursuant to rules of the Federation of Labour, unless hindered by extraordinary circumstances.
Article 19 The Election Committee
The Election Committee shall consist of three members for elections in the union. Two shall be nominated by the Board of the union and one nominated by the Federation of Store and Office Workers or the Federation of Labour. Alternate members shall be equal in number. The Election Committee shall wholly manage the implementation of elections according to the rules of the Federation of Labour.
Article 20 Election of the chairman, the Board and the Consultative Council
Article 20.1 On the election of the chairman and the Board
The chairman shall be elected in individual elections every other year. Seven Board members shall be elected annually for a term of two years and three alternate members for a term of one year in individual elections.
If there are more candidates standing for office than vacancies, an electronic election open to fully-fledged members shall be held.
If an insufficient number of candidates stand for election, the Board of the union shall present a proposal for Board members that is put to the Consultative Council for approval. If more proposals appear at the meeting of the Consultative Council, a vote between them shall be held at the meeting. Issues shall be decided by a majority vote.
20.2. On the election of the Consultative Council
An annual election shall take place to elect 41 representatives in a list election for the Consultative Council for a term of two years. If a Council member becomes unqualified to sit on the Council, cf. paragraph 3, Article 11, during the first year after his/her election, the vacancies in the next Council election shall be increased in excess of the 41 in accordance with the vacancies that have emerged with members being disqualified. Those who thereby are added to the list of candidates shall nonetheless only sit for a term of one year.
If more than one list emerges, an electronic election amongst fully-fledged members shall be held. The election shall be between lists, and the list receiving the most votes shall be duly elected. The Board and the Consultative Council shall be obligated to compose a list for the Consultative Committee. The same individual cannot simultaneously be on the list for the Consultative Committee and stand for an individual election for the post of chairman or the Board of the union. Advertisements shall be placed in newspapers and on the home page of the union calling for members who wish to take a seat on the list.
The List Composition Committee shall consist of a chairman and four individuals elected by the Consultative Council and shall be appointed before 15 January each year. The Committee shall choose candidates from those who that have presented themselves to stand for office and investigate their right to candidacy.
If there is an insufficient number of candidates, the List Composition Committee shall present a proposal for representatives on the list that shall be put to the Consultative Committee for approval.
If there are more candidates than vacancies on the list, the list shall be put to the Consultative Committee for approval. A candidate who has presented him/herself and has not been placed on the list can demand that a vote between candidates be held at the meeting of the Consultative Committee.
20.3 The implementation of elections
The Election Committee decides the lawfulness of candidacies.
The Election Committee administers and makes decisions on the implementation of elections. The decisions of the Election Committee are final.
The Election Committee shall advertise an invitation for candidacies in newspapers and on the website of the union. The deadline for submitting candidacies shall at least be one week.
Candidacies shall be submitted to the office of the union with names and ID numbers of the candidates. The written endorsement of 15 members are needed for candidacies for the Board. A written endorsement of 50 members is needed for the candidate for chairman.
The candidacy for a list for the Consultative Council shall be accompanied with the written consent of all those present on the list.
In order for a list presented against the list of the Consultative Council to be lawful, it shall need the written endorsement of 1% of members.
The Election Committee is authorised to give an extension of 24 hours to adjust for defects in candidacies. The Election Committee decides upon the qualifications and the right to stand for office of all candidates and thereafter it advertises the beginning of a vote, cf. the regulation of the Federation of Labour on a general secret ballot. The decisions of the Election Committee are final.
An election shall take place within 6 weeks after the candidacy deadline expires.
Elections for Council seats shall be completed no later than 15 March each year.
Candidates in individual elections can withdraw their candidacy up to a week before the first day of election. Candidates in a list election cannot withdraw their candidacy after the candidacy deadline has passed.
The office of the union shall administer the publicity of candidates in the union’s media as they are in each instance. Introductory meetings shall be held amongst members if one or more candidates so demand. The implementation and preparation of an election shall in other respects be in accordance with the regulation of the Federation of Labour regarding secret ballots.
20.4. On ballots and the ranking on lists
On the election of the Board:
Candidates shall be ranked alphabetically on the ballot, and voters shall mark at least one and at most seven. In order to maintain gender equality in the VR Board, the candidate receiving the most votes shall receive the first seat on the Board. The next seat shall be awarded to the person of the opposite gender receiving the second-most votes, etc. This gender arrangement shall also apply to the ranking of alternates. Those seven candidates who receive the most votes according to the above shall be deemed the duly elected principal Board members of VR for the next two years. The next three shall be deemed to be the three duly elected alternates to the VR Board for a period of one year.
On the election of the Consultative Council:
If there are more lists than the list of the Board and the Consultative Council, the lists shall be individually marked with letters of the alphabet in such order as they are turned in. The names on each list shall be in alphabetical order. If, at the meeting of the Consultative Council, a vote takes place between individuals that shall be placed on the list, cf. paragraph 5, Article 20.2, the names shall be placed in alphabetical order on the ballot.
Article 21 Election of representatives to the congress of the Federation of the Store and Office Workers and to the annual meeting of the Federation of Labour
A general election is authorised to be held for representatives to the congress of the Federation of the Store and Office Workers and to the annual meeting of the Federation of Labour, and it shall be held in accordance with the regulations of the Federation of Labour in this respect. If a general election is held amongst lists of representatives, the consent of all those on the list needs to be at hand. In order for a list to be lawfully presented against the list of the Board and the Consultative Council, it needs the written endorsement of 1% of members. Account shall be taken of Article 18 on elections as applicable.
Article 22 Equality
In the selection of members for representative tasks for the union, account shall be taken of gender equality as well as equality between professions.
Article 23 Annual general meetings
The annual general meeting of the union shall be held before the end of April each year and no later than 14 days after the election to the Board has taken place. The meeting shall be convened by radio, newspapers and on the electronic media of VR or in another proven manner with a notice of at least 10 days. The annual general meeting shall possess the highest authority in matters of the union.
Article 24 The agenda of the annual general meeting
The agenda of the annual general meeting shall be as follows:
1. Election of a meeting chairman.
2. Election of a meeting secretary.
3. Report of the Board on the activities of the union for the past year.
4. Accounts of the union for the past year presented for approval.
5. Amendments to laws and regulations if presented.
6. The declaration of the Board and the Consultative Council.
7. The election of a chartered auditor and audit firm as well as two examiners from the union.
8. Determination of dues.
9. Determination of Board member pay.
10. Other issues.
Article 25 Meetings of the union
The union holds meetings as needed. However, the Board shall convene a meeting when not less than 1% of members so demand in writing, and the meeting shall be held within 7 days from the time the Board receives such demand. The meeting is lawful if convened with advertising on radio, newspapers and electronic media of VR or in another provable manner with a notice of not less than two days. A meeting may be convened with a shorter notice in special circumstances, such as during wage negotiations or other issues according to the assessment of the Board. Issues shall be decided by a majority vote at meetings unless these laws dictates otherwise. A book of minutes shall be maintained, and a summary of events shall be written therein from the meetings of the union.
Lawful union meetings shall possess the supreme power in all issues of the union between annual general meetings within limits set by law.
Article 26 Funds
The union operates:
A union fund, a sickness fund, a vacation fund, a reserve fund and a strike fund.
The regulations of the funds shall specify their objects, revenue, the mode of payouts and other issues pertaining to the operation of the funds.
The Board of VR handles the management of the funds, but a separate board for each fund is authorised.
The funds of the union shall be invested as follows:
a) in Treasury bonds and Treasury-guaranteed bonds,
b) with purchases of listed securities,
c) in commercial and savings bank accounts,
d) in real property related to the operation and objects of the funds,
e) in another manner decided by the Board and the Consultative Council.
Article 27 Accounts
The Board presents accounts that shall be audited by a chartered accountant and signed by him/her and the examiners of the union. They shall be available for members to examine at the office of the union and on the web page of the union seven days before the annual general meeting.
Article 28 Amendments to law
This law will not be amended except at a lawful annual general meeting. However, an annual general meeting or a continued annual general meeting may refer an amendment to the laws to a general vote.
A notice convening a meeting shall state that amendments to the laws are on the agenda.
The amendments of the Board shall be introduced to the Consultative Council.
Proposals for amendments shall be delivered to the Board not later than 14 days before an annual general meeting. At an annual general meeting, it shall only be allowed to present amendments to the amendments presented to the Board in this manner. Other amendment proposals will not be entertained.
All amendments to the laws shall be available at the office and on the home page of the union not later than 7 days before an annual general meeting.
Two-thirds of votes cast are needed for the approval of amendments. The amendments will not come into effect before the Central Committee of the Federation of Labour and the Federation of Store and Office Workers have ratified them.
Article 29 The winding-up of the union
The union will not be wound up except by the approval of three-fourths of members, and this decision will not be changed with reference to the provisions of Article 28.
(The laws of VR, approved at the annual general meeting of VR on 28 February 1955 with subsequent amendments on 19 February 1958, 23 February 1959, 10 February 1965, 17 January 1967, 25 January 1969, 2 June 1975, 11 February 1976, 21 March 1978, 18 March 1991, 25 March 2002, 14 March 2005, 24 April 2006, 31 March 2008, 2 April 2009, 11 January 2011, 27 April 2011, 10 April 2012, 26 March 2014, 25 March 2015, 28 March 2017, 19 March 2018).
Please note the following: This is a translation only. In matters of dispute, please refer to the original text in Icelandic.