The delegation traveled to Sweden to highlight the findings of the report, “How IKEA is Hurting Families: Report on the IKEA Lockout in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.” The report outlines the findings of an International Fact-Finding Commission formed by UNI Global Union and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) at the request of Teamsters Canada.
The report describes how far IKEA has departed from its original Swedish values. IKEA has locked out more than 300 workers at its Richmond store for more than six months because the workers exercised their legal right to vote down IKEA’s demands for a wage system that discriminates against workers and forces many workers to give up family health care benefits. The report calls on IKEA to end its lockout of workers and return to the bargaining table in good faith immediately. The report is available in A4 size (http://bit.ly/1iXdd8K) and in U.S. letter size (http://bit.ly/19hJUYy).
The delegation to Sweden is comprised of: Keith Austin, a locked out IKEA Richmond store worker; Grant Coleman, Teamsters Canada; Peter Lövkvist, Nordic Transport Federation; Erin van der Maas, International Transport Workers’ Federation; Tim Beaty, International Brotherhood of Teamsters; and Mathias Bolton, UNI Global.
“IKEA is holding 300 families hostage,” said Keith Austin, a 27-year IKEA employee at the Richmond, B.C. store who traveled with the delegation. “The company is refusing to let us return to work until we surrender many of our rights. It is unconscionable that this multi-billion dollar corporation has locked us out of our jobs. I came to Sweden to ask IKEA why it has hired notoriously anti-union lawyers to sit at the bargaining table in Canada and pretend to negotiate while our families suffer at Christmas time.”
Yesterday in Stockholm, the delegation provided the report to Lars-Anders Häggström, president of Handelsanställdas Förbund (Handels), the trade union representing workers in IKEA Sweden.
“We are not asking for more. We want to go back to our jobs and to negotiate,” Austin said. “But we refuse to accept the sweeping and humiliating deteriorations the company is trying to force us to accept. More than 300 of us refuse to surrender to IKEA’s threats, despite the harsh economic conditions we’ve experienced during the lockout.”
The Commission found that IKEA Richmond has fallen short in a number of ways with local norms, practices and laws and global standards set by IKEA. The report concludes, “IKEA Richmond’s management has abandoned the stated values of the ‘IKEA family’ by adopting a radical anti-worker agenda that opposes unionization and encourages union decertification.”
The report also calls on IKEA Canada to ensure its legal counsel follows IKEA’s own global standards. In 2010, IKEA changed its outside legal counsel to the anti-union law firm Fasken Martineau. IKEA workers and their representatives at Teamsters Local 213 in Vancouver, B.C. identify this change in legal counsel as one of the key drivers of the company’s new, divisive management approach to labor relations.
ITF will make an appeal to its member organizations for solidarity actions on December 17. Teamsters Canada is considering legal action and may file a case with the ILO and the OECD.
“IKEA has clearly violated its own code of conduct, as well as international labor standards,” said Peter Lövkvist, general secretary of the Nordic Transport Federation and chair of the international fact-finding commission on the IKEA lockout in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. “Locking out and intimidating workers, and hiring lawyers with histories of attacking workers and unions – behavior I witnessed personally in Canada – none of this is acceptable. In Sweden, IKEA would never treat its workers this way or disobey international conventions on labor rights.”
More information is available at www.IKEAHurtsFamilies.com.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.