An international delegation arrived in Sweden this week to deliver its verdict on the anti-union behaviour of IKEA Canada in the on-going dispute at Swedish retail giant IKEA’s Richmond, British Columbia, store. The delegation is in Sweden to highlight …

Walton Pantland

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An international delegation arrived in Sweden this week to deliver its verdict on the anti-union behaviour of IKEA Canada in the on-going dispute at Swedish retail giant IKEA’s Richmond, British Columbia, store.

The delegation is in Sweden to highlight the findings of the report, How IKEA is hurting families: Report on the IKEA lockout in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, which was compiled following a November fact-finding trip.

The delegation handed the report to Lars-Anders Häggström, president of Handelsanställdas Förbund (Handels) the trade union representing workers in IKEA Sweden, in Stockholm on Tuesday.

The report, which was featured on last night’s SVT Rapport programme, calls on IKEA Canada to end its lockout of workers and return to the bargaining table in good faith immediately.

Keith Austin, an IKEA employee for 27 years at its Richmond, BC store is part of the delegation. He said: “IKEA is holding us hostage. 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 lawyers to sit at the bargaining table in Canada and pretend to negotiate while our families starve at Christmas time.”

The report also calls on IKEA Canada to end its support of anti-union organisation, Labour Watch, and ensure its legal counsel follows the global standards of IKEA. Around 2010, IKEA changed its outside legal counsel to anti-union law firm Fasken Martineau. IKEA workers and the local union identify this change in legal counsel as the key driver of the new, divisive, management approach to labour relations.
Finally, the report calls on IKEA to set a new voluntary standard for its employees in Canada and worldwide, by engaging with UNI Global toward a Global Framework Agreement, ensuring a common application of IKEA values.

“IKEA has clearly violated its own code of conduct, as well as international labour standards”, said Peter Lovkvist, 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 – behaviour I witnessed personally in Canada – none of this is acceptable. IKEA would never treat its workers in Sweden
this way.”


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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