As autumn rolls into Metro Vancouver, I am sure that many of you, like myself, will invest in new home furnishings for your dorm, apartment, bedroom, the list goes on. This semester however, I encourage you to shop Ikea-free.
Don’t get me wrong, I too love the look and design of Ikea furniture — plus who can resist the hotdogs, meatballs and frozen yogurt? Simply put, I refuse to buy from a company that violates Canadian labour laws and tries to force its employees to work for less.
According to Teamsters Local 213, the union representing the Richmond Ikea workers, an issue began when Ikea imposed wage cuts, axed benefits, and reduced the hours of its full time staff. When staff refused the proposed changes, the corporate giant locked out over 300 of its workers. Ikea then attempted some hardball tactics, such as reducing workers’ pay for every day they stayed off the job. But sadly, that isn’t the end of the unfair labour practices.
The corporate giant then ignored labour laws by trying to negotiate with the employees directly on an online job website instead of going through the union. According to a Labour Relations Board (LRB) ruling, Ikea must now pay damages to the union for unfair negotiation tactics.
Profit should not be made off workers’ backs, but rather through product sales.
Last year Ikea had record sales, reporting an annual increase of 3.1 per cent. However, in countries such as the United States, Turkey, Russia and France, Ikea is being accused of poor labour relations. Profit should not be made off workers’ backs, but rather through product sales.
It’s easy to pretend that this problem isn’t real, or at the very least doesn’t affect you. But that is the exact mentality big business hopes that you will maintain. These workers are our neighbours; they are members of our community and are being bullied by this corporation.
Despite the LRB ruling, employees are still not back at work, as Ikea does not feel pressured by the 300 ‘little guys’ who are taking a stance. The company is asking its Richmond workers to accept less without due cause. We should not admire nor give our business to a corporation that shows blatant disrespect for labour law and workers’ rights. Therefore, I say it’s time to boycott this brand.
If Ikea won’t listen to its employees, it will have to listen to us, the consumers. Take a stance against the corporate bullying by furnishing your home or dorm with the products of a company that is committed to protecting its workers. Ikea’s workers were asked to accept less than what their previous contract promised — they are not asking for anything more than what they once had.
This semester, I hope you join me in the Ikea boycott, and put pressure on the corporation to resolve this labour dispute.