Icelandair’s cabin crew union has called a ballot to vote for strike action following the failure of talks over a new collective agreement, after which the airline sacked all its flight attendants.

The proposed strike would be indefinite and begin on 4 August, subject to a confirmation vote to be held from 24-27 July.

Cabin crew union FFI has condemned the “unexpected and unilateral” termination of negotiations, after which Icelandair laid off all its flight attendants and instructed standby pilots to take on the cabin crew role.

“Icelandair’s position puts FFI in the precarious position of having to begin preparations for immediate and extensive strike action,” says the union.

Chair Gudlaug Liney Johannsdottir describes Icelandair’s attitude as a “disgrace” and adds: “I have faith that the public doesn’t take such contempt for employees silently.”

The union says it expects the “full force” of solidarity for its decision, adding that it has the backing of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour.

This confederation says the wage discussions between the airline and its cabin crew took place amid “underlying threats” to seek alternative measures to concluding a collective agreement – which the confederation interpreted as the airline’s being prepared to “disregard the rules of the game”.

It insists that the Icelandic government should not be using public funds to support the airline “unless the rights of employees are respected”, and that investment funds should not participate in share offerings to support companies that fall short in this regard.