Not IKEA, surely?

Posted: December 26, 2012 in Rights around the world
Tags: , , ,

IKEA at Tempe near Sydney’s International Airport

As Western children play today amidst all those shreds of Christmas paper wrapping and, no doubt, many adults queue up to return or exchange unwanted gifts, I wonder how many of them pause to think that IKEA, that friendly, funky store would have so many labour rights issues?

Workers in IKEA Turkey for example, report being intimidated when they attempt to join the local union, Koop-Is Sendikasi especially after a union activist on the site was sacked.

Interestingly the countries where IKEA management play by the rules are mostly in Northern Europe while the reported problem locations are found in an arc through Southern and Eastern Europe. This is in line with the predictions of Geert Hofstede’s Power-Distance Index (PDI) as they are all countries with a high PDI score; in other words, where workers tend to believe management are inherently unjust and, conversely, where management tend to believe their role requires them to get their hands dirty (I provide this as a possible explanation, not as an excuse).

The problematic sites are:

  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Czech Republic
  • Russia

The retail global union federation, UNI, has made IKEA a focus company for a co-ordinated campaign amongst affiliates and in countries where there is no strong retail/warehouse union. UNI spokesman Alke Boessiger said:

To us it is clear that all workers at all IKEA workplaces are equal and have the right to the same good working conditions and the same rights to become a union member and negotiate a collective agreement

To its credit, IKEA appears to be heeding the “reputational challenge” that all of this presents and is in discussions with UNI about addressing them.

Here is UNI’s Research Brief and below is their video explaining the goals of the campaign:

You can follow the latest on this campaign at facebook.com/UnionAllianceIKEA

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