Workers at IKEA's Richmond, British Columbia Store Endure Six-Month Lockout
WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters launched the 'IKEA Hurts Families' campaign that highlights how far IKEA's Richmond, British Columbia, Canada store has departed from the original values of the Swedish company. IKEA has locked out 350 workers at its Richmond store without pay for more than six months because the workers voted down a contract proposal with a discriminatory two-tiered wage system.
The Teamsters debuted a new campaign website, www.ikeahurtsfamilies.com, to showcase how the Canadian store is violating workers' human rights by featuring videos from the Nov. 7, 2013 International Commission of Inquiry.
"Our investigation found that workers came to IKEA because they respected the company and they wanted to build a career at IKEA, but IKEA Richmond has let these workers down," said Peter Lövkvist, federation secretary of the Nordic Transport Workers' Federation, who led the International Commission's investigation into IKEA's lockout. "Instead of doing the jobs that they love, the workers have been locked out for six months without a paycheck. Every day that goes by is another black mark against the reputation that IKEA worked so hard to build."
The Teamsters Union had a nearly 30-year history of mutual cooperation and labor peace with IKEA. Teamsters Canada Local Union 213 in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, represents the workers at IKEA's Richmond store.
IKEA's initial contract proposal, which was voted down in Jan. 2013, included a discriminatory two-tier wage system that capped the maximum wages of 166 of the current workers at a much lower rate and all new workers would get paid on an even lower wage scale. The proposal also included reductions in hours and decreases in the number of workers who are eligible for a number of family and individual health benefits. When workers widely voted down a second contract proposal, IKEA locked the workers out of their jobs, leaving them without a paycheck since May 2013.
"The company I have grown up to love and admire has become one big corporate machine, at least in North America," said IKEA Richmond employee Julia Buczek. "It is upsetting to see that the original Swedish values that we have all looked up to and regarded in such a positive way are just going down the drain."
During the lockout, IKEA has insisted on adding harsher provisions to contract proposals that would further cut wages and benefits. On July 24, IKEA's proposal replaced the two-tier wage scale with a wage system that would tie wage increases to subjective, company-controlled measures that were not related to the actual work performed by the IKEA employees, such as sales goals and productivity. The proposal would also cut jobs and hourly guarantees.
The British Columbia Labour Relations Board has ordered IKEA to cease and desist using new and out of province managers as replacement workers during the lockout. IKEA was also ordered to cease and desist using outside security inside the store.
"IKEA Richmond workers are not asking for much. They are simply asking to be treated with respect," said Anita Dawson, Business Agent for Teamsters Local 213. "They want IKEA to live up to the Swedish values that the company was founded on. They want to be part of the IKEA family and still afford to feed their families."
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.
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SOURCE: International Brotherhood of Teamsters
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