IKEA workers’ rights abuses make headlines at home
IKEA is under increasing pressure to clean up its act worldwide after the retail giant's rights abuses made headlines at home in Sweden.
A string of major disagreements with its own workers in countries outside of Sweden, including an 8 month worker lockout in Canada, is ruining IKEA’s image as a model employer and ethical company.
UNI is calling on IKEA to sign a global agreement which guarantees good standards and workers’ rights throughout the multinational’s global operations.
In a translated text, the leading Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter said, “In Sweden and Northern Europe, IKEA is often described as a model workplace. But in other parts of the world, the furnishings giant is criticised for opposing unions. At the moment, there is a dispute in Canada where the workers have had no work and no wages for more than seven months.
“It was when the CBA expired about a year ago that a large majority of the employees at an IKEA store in Richmond, Canada refused to sign the new agreement. IKEA locked out the workers from their workplace because they wouldn't sign the new agreement.”
The UNI IKEA Global Alliance with its network of 40 unions and IKEA workers from 16 countries says there is a clear division between IKEA’s Nordic operations and neighbouring countries where workers’ rights are largely respected and where the company and unions entertain a constructive dialogue and further afield where they are ignored or abused.
“This action is something I've never heard of in Europe.” said Alke Boessiger, from Head of UNI Commerce, which has been leading the negotiations globally with IKEA.
The article continues: “IKEA refers to a statement from the Canadian equivalent of the labour court which maintains that the workers are on strike. And according to IKEA, the company had attempted to meet the union's demands.
But according to Boessiger, IKEA has certainly not been following its own principles on good worker rights in countries such as the USA and Canada.
“It seems the local management in countries such as Canada are allowed to get away with much more than they would be allowed to in other countries.”
In Canada, workers at the Richmond store have been locked out for more than 8 months over a collective bargaining conflict between their union The Teamsters and local management. UNI is mediating in the conflict but a solution has not yet been found. In Turkey, a plan to build relations between local management and the union Koop-Is and to fully implement worker rights to join a union and bargain collectively is still in the process of being discussed on local and global level.
To read the full article in Swedish, please click here: http://www.dn.se/ekonomi/ikea-anklagas-f