International trade union leaders protest IKEA union-busting
IKEA subsidiary may be the most dangerous wood furniture factory in the United States
Employees at an IKEA's US manufacturing subsidiary Swedwood have been trying to organise with the help of unions. The Machinists' union (IAM) has recently branded the company's factory in Danivell, Virginia, as being possibly "the most dangerous wood household furniture operation in the United States" after a recent survey of accident rates.
“Swedwood’s “production-at-any-cost” philosophy ...creates a situation where workers’ safety is not valued and workers themselves are viewed as disposable,” said William Street, Director of the IAM Woodworkers Department. “Nothing else explains their willingness...to allow so many injuries to occur.”
According to the the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI), a federation of 328 trade unions representing around 12 million members, Swedwood workers have been complaining about safety problems since the factory was opened and the local health and safety authority has found Swedwood guilty of violating the law on several counts and issued fines for violations of the safety laws. Many workers have said they would like to join a union, but the company has refused the union entry to the factory to organise. The BWI also claims to have received reports that some workers who support the union have lost their jobs.
The company refuses to allow the union to recruit and negotiate a collective agreement, despite parent company IKEA co-operating with unions in native Sweden. The BWI questions why IKEA's record on sound labour relations in Europe can't be extended to the other side of the Atlantic.
Trade union leaders from more than 25 countries protested in front of the Genève IKEA to send a message that they were united against workers' rights abuses in Danville, Virginia on 7 December 2010. This action is part of a BWI-led international campaign to bring the Swedish group to respect fundamental rights by finally allowing Swedwood workers to freely to join the union of their choice.
Sign up to BWI’s latest protest letter by logging on to www.bwint.org/IKEA