Photo: flickr/linecon0

Those of you who don’t follow Icelandic news and politics, which is probably most of you, may not have heard of the labor strike that’s been going on since April. Hoping for better wages, it started with about 10,000 workers mostly made up of general laborers, wholesale food service workers (slaughterhouses, fish factories, etc.), and some from the tourist industry and cleaning services.

And they even had the following schedule:

April 30: Work stoppage from noon until midnight.
May 6 and 7: Work stoppages from midnight until midnight.
May 19 and 20: Work stoppages from midnight until midnight.
May 26: General strike begins at midnight.

Then things got a little more serious. Other unions, such as the Association of Academics (BHM), which includes health professionals (nurses, midwives and veterinarians) also went on strike…indefinitely, and frightening headlines started to appear in local and international newspapers:

The Verge: Iceland is running out of meat because of a vet strike.
Bloomberg: Iceland Running out of Burgers as Vet Strike Causes Meat Crisis.
Reykjavik Grapevine: Vet Strike Getting Serious: KFC To Close Due To Chicken Shortage.

All the while I’m thinking, gee, that sucks. I hope the people get what they need, but I also hope the food prices aren’t too high when we arrive.

At the end of May Iceland Review reported that 40 percent of Iceland’s workers were on strike, and in such a small community, as you can imagine, it was affecting everyone.

But for some reason, I never connected the dots until I read this: Dog Refused Entry to Iceland due to Strike (Iceland Review). Vet strike: dog deported or destroyed (Iceland Monitor).

And then it clicked…no vets…no animals being inspected at customs…no pets being allowed into the country. OMFG…our cat is due to arrive in Iceland in two weeks to begin her mandatory month-long quarantine. If there are no vets, she will be refused entry and returned to the UK. She will miss her quarantine window, her blood tests and health certificate will expire…and she will have to go through the process all over again. Not to mention the fact that we’re LEAVING THE COUNTRY, have already paid for a plane ticket to Iceland, and still have to get her into quarantine at some point.


So I did what every responsible pet owner would do…I called our London vet to confirm they’d sent her blood tests to a UK lab and not an Icelandic one where they would sit and go bad. I emailed The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST), not even expecting a response if they were all on strike. I called the quarantine facility that had not responded to any of my random emails over the last month when I sent them the cat’s flight information.

So you can imagine how relieved I was when both MAST and the quarantine folks responded and told me not to worry, Parliament was meeting that very day to create legislation to end the strikes. And end them they did. Now the headlines in Icelandic papers are saying things like:

Strike called off: waffles time!
Beef is back!
Parliament crushes strikes.
Law On Nurses Strike Passes, Resignations Follow En Masse.

And the best sentence I’ve ever read: “Vets will be returning to work today…”

BUT we’re not out of the woods yet. “The bill passed on Saturday calls for all strike action to be halted until 1 July and for the parties involved to use that time to strike a deal. If this does not happen, the case will be sent to a court of arbitration.” That’s the day our cat is supposed to arrive in Iceland. If the vets go back to striking that day, we’re screwed.

I guess all we can do is keep our fingers crossed, watch the news reports, call the quarantine facility the morning that she flies, and come up with a Plan B…just in case. Such is life in the Foreign Service when you have pets. Have I mentioned that we’re thinking of adding a dog to our family?