The Icelandic Teachers' Union was founded on 1 January 2000. It is a joint organization for all teachers, headteachers, deputy headteachers, and student counsellors, in preschools, primary schools, secondary schools, and music schools – with the exception of headtechers in secondary schools.
With 10.000 members, the Icelandic Teachers' Union is among the largest professional organizations in Iceland. The strength this solidarity provides has been demonstrated during efforts to obtain better salaries and working conditions for teachers, and in negotiations for new wage contracts.
The individual teachers' associations that make up the Icelandic Teachers' Union work independently, negotiating wage contracts for their own members. The Icelandic Teachers' Union is concerned with rights and interests that are common to all members, such as pensions, sick leave and parental leave. The Icelandic Teachers' Union also monitors general developments in wages and working conditions on the Icelandic labor market.
Member organizations of the Icelandic Teachers' Union are:
The website is an effective medium for providing news and information from the Icelandic Teachers' Union to member organizations. The site contains information on the Union's main activities as well as links to member associations' homepages, which describe their most important functions.
This organization's role is to safeguard the rights and interests of its members, encourage cooperation between them, and strengthen professional and trade union awareness. The Icelandic Teachers' Union also works to improve teachers' training and continuing education for its members.
The Icelandic Teachers' Union serves as a forum for informed discussion of current trends in education and promotes and encourages progress and innovation in teaching and education.
The Icelandic Teachers' Union cooperates with teachers' associations in other countries and other trade unions in Iceland.
The Union works to ensure that preschools, primary schools, music schools, and secondary schools always have the most capable teachers, student counsellors, headteachers, and assistant heads. In this way, the KI encourages quality in teaching and continuity in education.
The Icelandic Teachers' Union promotes solidarity among all teachers.
The Icelandic Teachers' Union considers better basic pay, improvements in working conditions, and greater opportunities for continuing education for its members to be key factors in attracting young people to teachers' training programs and careers in the country's schools.
The Icelandic Teachers' Union possesses great knowledge and experience that it can pass on to its members in various ways. The Union and associated organizations place great importance on service to union members who seek information and assistance regarding contract conditions and other professional issues.
The Icelandic Teachers' Union has several hundred union representatives in the country's schools. They represent the trade union in the schools and play a significant role in safeguarding members' rights and interests. They are an important link between the officers of associated organizations and individual union members in the schools.
The negotiating committees of the member associations of the Icelandic Teachers' Union negotiate contracts for salaries and working conditions for their members in preschools, primary, secondary, and music schools. The Committee on Contract Conditions, which consists of the president of the Icelandic Teachers' Union and representatives of the negotiating committees of the Union's member associations, is a forum for discussion of common objectives in relation to contract conditions. The Committee on Contract Conditions is responsible for negotiations that involve common rights.
The members of committees on educational issues discuss matters related to professionalism in education, and they work to improve teachers' training and the continuing education of union members in preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and music schools. Taken together, these committees form the Educational Council. The Icelandic Teachers' Union Executive Committee appoints the chairman of the Council. The Educational Council discusses current issues relating to education and schools and advises the Union executive on educational policy objectives.
The Standing Committee on the Working Environment is The Teachers´ Union professional committee on the working environment. The committee places emphasis on the psychosocial working environment, e.g. communication in the workplace, matters of the personnel and factors influencing job satisfaction and wellbeing at work. In addition the committee puts emphasis on working conditions. Here you can read the Teachers´ Union Policy on the Working Environment.
Foreign and domestic cooperation
The Icelandic Teachers' Union is a member of EI (Education International), and is an active participant in the NLS (Nordic Teachers' Council), a cooperative forum for teachers' associations in the Nordic countries.
The Icelandic Teachers' Union also cooperates with several Icelandic union organizations, including the BSRB (Confederation of State and Municipal Employees) and BHM (Association of Academics), on issues of common concern, such as contract conditions and rights for salaried employees.
Schools are one of the most important pillars of society, as education is the key to social and economic well-being. Education is necessary to ensure the future of Icelandic culture, and it is a precondition for a strong competitive position internationally.
Teachers are important role models for pupils, and it is important that society devote attention to educational issues and the teaching profession, demonstrating its regard for education through positive action.
Well-educated teachers are a prerequisite for good instruction and better schools. It is important to provide more opportunities for the teaching profession to prepare for the constantly changing demands made on schools and education in general.
The demands made on Icelandic Teachers' Union members due to innovations in teaching methods, information technology, and expanding cooperation among educational levels are growing from one year to the next.
The teaching profession has changed; there is now greater emphasis on consultation and teamwork. Teachers participate in the development of new methods of instruction, teaching materials, and courses of study. Cooperation with parents is becoming more significant, and greater input by pupils is an area that is both exciting and demanding. The Icelandic Teachers' Union stresses that teachers must be guaranteed enough time to prepare for these varied tasks.
The Icelandic Teachers´ Union has established a code of conduct in order to reinforce its members´ competence and professionalism. The code serves as a guide for teachers in their work.
Preschools, primary, secondary and music schools prepare pupils to live and participate in a democratic society that is undergoing constant development. The Icelandic Teachers' Union believes that one of its most important professional responsibilities is to promote truly equal access to education and participation in school activities for all children and young people.
It is necessary to create an understanding and will on the part of society to ensure that the teaching profession is always a desirable occupation and schools an attractive workplace.
It is important to find ways to counteract the teacher shortage at all school levels, and to ensure a sufficient supply of well-educated people with the required qualifications to teach, advise, and administer at all school levels everywhere in the country.
It will be necessary to educate more teachers to work at every educational level in coming years. The authorities, in consultation with the Icelandic Teachers' Union and Icelandic universities, must devise a special program to encourage young people to train for the teaching profession.
Current and future union members must always have easy access to basic, further, and continuing education, in order to strengthen their competence and meet new challenges in education and school operation.
The Icelandic Teachers' Union and its member associations safeguard collective agreements and the professional rights of their members.
The union assists its members in resolving disputes that can arise in relations with employers and provides members with legal assistance if their rights are not respected.
The Union's Continuing Education Fund (endurmenntun) gives grants to individuals and groups for further or continuing education under the regulations governing the fund's activities.
The Strike Fund is a joint fund belonging to all Icelandic Teachers' Union member associations. It makes payments to members during strikes and covers the costs incurred by the Union during industrial action. A certain percentage of each member's union dues is paid into the fund.
Members who are dropped from the payroll due to illness receive per diem sick pay from the „Sick Pay Fund“. Benefits are also paid in cases of long-term serious illness of a spouse and/or child.
The fund also pays part of the cost of medical examinations for cancer, risk-factor assessments done by the Heart Association, and treatment by a psychologist, massage therapist, physical therapist, or chiropractor. The fund also pays funeral grants to the families of deceased union members.
The Union's „Holiday Fund“ owns and maintains holiday houses in Ásabyggð and Heiðarbyggð in the Hrunamannahreppur district and in Kjarnaskógur near Akureyri. These houses can be rented by union members the whole year round. The fund also owns premises in Sóleyjargata in Reykjavík.
In summer, the „Holiday Fund“ sublets vacation houses in several parts of Iceland and in Spain.
Skólavarðan is the official publication of the Icelandic Teachers' Union and is sent to all members. Skólavarðan contains news and interviews on the main issues in education and school events in Iceland and abroad and discusses matters related to its members' pay and working conditions, qualifications, and other issues involving their professional interests.
Members finance the Union's activities by paying dues, which are set at four-year intervals by the General Meeting of the Icelandic Teachers' Union, which is the organization's highest authority. Every effort is made to run the organization in the most economical way possible, while still upholding the objective of providing the best possible service to members.