Members of Teamsters Local 213 have been locked out of an IKEA store in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada since May 2013. IKEA locked out workers after they rejected company demands for concessions and a return to a tiered wage system. The 350 workers …

Walton Pantland

Teamsters Ikea

Members of Teamsters Local 213 have been locked out of an IKEA store in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada since May 2013.

IKEA locked out workers after they rejected company demands for concessions and a return to a tiered wage system. The 350 workers at IKEA rejected the company offer twice in a vote.

The members also voted in favour of industrial action – so the company locked them out.

The Richmond store is one of two unionised IKEA sites in Canada.  The other is in Montreal.

Now an international fact-finding team has arrived in Canada to examine the ongoing dispute at the Swedish retail giant’s store. The team is tasked with investigating the situation, and then reporting its findings back to a Swedish and international audience. The team includes representatives on Scandinavian unions, as well as global union federations.

The team is visiting Richmond and Vancouver, where it will interview workers, meet with labour market experts and hold a public commission of inquiry tomorrow.  The event will feature the mission members, workers’ representatives, community leaders and experts such as British Columbia Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair.

The four strong fact-finding team is led by Peter Lövkvist, federation secretary of the Nordic Transport Workers’ Federation (NTF), which represents 400,000 transport workers across the Nordic countries.

Lövkvist commented: “It is now over 180 days since workers at the Richmond store, all of whom are members of Teamsters Local 213, were locked out by IKEA. We consider it extremely urgent that this situation is investigated both as a local matter and in relation to what it means for labour relations throughout IKEA’s global operations. On completion of this mission we will then report our findings to regulators in Sweden and to all countries in which the company conducts business.”

The head of UNI Commerce, Alke Boessiger, added: “Despite UNI repeatedly urging IKEA’s global and national Canadian management to meet with the local union in Richmond, our demands have fallen on deaf ears. IKEA is a company with a global footprint and a global responsibility. If it fails to act in Richmond the consequences will be felt in Sweden and around the world. The systems they are trying to impose are unacceptable to Canadian unions and those across the globe.”

The fact-finding team comprises: Peter Lövkvist; Michael Toal, UNI Global Union commerce representative;  Erin van der Maas, ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) strategic industrial project coordinator; and Tim Beaty, director of global strategies for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.


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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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