Unions file complaint against Ikea over ‘workers’ rights abuses’

An international coalition of labour unions is calling for an investigation into supposed “wide-ranging violations” of workers’ rights at furniture retailer Ikea.

The complaint, delivered to the Dutch OECD National Contact Point, details failures by Ikea’s global management to curb “vicious anti-union campaigns” in the United States, Ireland, and Portugal.

According to the group Ikea employees in several countries have sought unionisation to address “serious workplace issues”, such as stressful working conditions, erratic or unfair scheduling, sick leave policies, sexual harassment, and other forms of adverse treatment of workers.

Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union, said: “IKEA knows what it means to have sound industrial relations, and yet it is simply not playing by the rules that govern global corporations.

“The company’s top management repeatedly ignored the red flags that workers and unions have raised about violations of rights in its stores around the world.  So we’ve asked the Dutch government to step in to ensure that we can end these unacceptable practices.”

In response Ikea said: ““We are committed to providing a great place to work, permeated by a spirit of collaboration, dignity and respect for all co-workers.  We respect and welcome the free choice of our co-workers to seek representation through any kind of co-worker association. Our position on union representation is clear – we firmly believe that the freedom of choice exclusively belongs to each and every one of our co-workers, and we will not take side or express preference to any association.

“Ikea Group complies strictly with all regulations relating to union organizing activities everywhere we operate. We have good relations with Social partners both in the countries we operate in and globally. Thus, when our co-workers do chose to be represented by a co-worker association, we are open to having a constructive and cooperative dialogue with their representatives and to engage in collective bargaining in good faith.”

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