In a complaint that was filed to the OECD, a federation of unions has claimed that Ikea violated the rights of its workers to unionize in three countries.
The UNI Global Union is a collection of 900 unions from 140 countries. It is accusing Ikea of a “vicious anti-union campaign in the United States, Ireland, and Portugal.”
The federation filed a complaint against the Swedish furniture titan with the authorities in the Netherlands, where the firm has its head office.
Christy Hoffman, the head of UNI Global Union, stated: “Ikea knows what it means to have sound industrial relations, and yet it is simply not playing by the rules that govern global corporations.”
She added: “The company’s top management repeatedly ignored the red flags that workers and unions have raised about violations of rights in its stores around the world. So we’ve asked the Dutch government to step in to ensure that we can end these unacceptable practices.”
The complaint centres around scheduling, working conditions, alleged sexual harassment, and sick leave policies in the three countries.
It also accused the management in the three countries of misrepresenting the downsides of union membership and intimidated the workers to stop them from unionising.
The complaint alleges the workers in the Dublin store of the company were physically removed after attempting to unionise.
Hoffman stated: “We see common themes between these three countries, which is why we are taking action against Ikea as a global company, not [against] its local stores.”
She added: “We don’t know if this was top-down orders or top-down looking the other way. Either way, it was unacceptable.”
The authorities in the Netherlands are anticipated to hold talks with UNI Global and Ikea prior to coming up with the decision whether to take on the case. This process usually takes a period of three months.
After that, the two will go through a process of mediation while trying to reach an agreement. However, if no agreement was made, the authorities will be publishing a list of recommendations.
The OECD has no power to impose sanctions on Ikea if it decides not to follow the recommendations.
A spokesperson for Ikea said that the company was aware of the complaint. He added that it is “committed to providing a great place to work, permeated by a spirit of collaboration, dignity and respect.
“We respect and welcome the free choice of our co-workers to seek representation through any kind of co-worker association. While Ikea Group respects the free choice of our co-workers to join – or not to join – a co-worker association or union, we will not take sides or express preference to any association.”
The spokesperson added: “Ikea Group complies strictly with the applicable regulations in relation with union organising activities in each country where it operates.”