Ikea US staff declare union vote victory

Staff at the Ikea-owned Swedwood factory in Danville voted on Wednesday with a large majority in favour of signing a collective bargaining agreement, ending a often bitter three year struggle.

Ikea US staff declare union vote victory

“A major victory,” the Swedish union declared.

“I am very happy, primarily for the workers at the Swedwood factory in Danville. This has been long struggle,” said Per-Olof Sjöö, chairperson of GS, which organises workers at Swedwood.

The union has for several years been claiming that they have a majority of the workers behind them, but in the US more than half after needed for employees to gain the right to unionise.

The vote late on Wednesday saw some 77 percent of the around 300 staff at the factory in Danville, Virginia to vote for unionisation.

“The management has to understand that the serious issues at Swedwood have to be solved and we want to help them with that,” said Bill Street at the Machinists Union to the Swedish local Smålandsposten daily.

Street has previously accused Ikea for management the plant as if it was a factory in a developing country, with low wages, poor working environment and irregular working hours.

Street was happy after the vote last night.

“I am more than satisfied,” he said.

The issue has attracted a great deal of attention in the US media and Jon Stewart’s Daily Show had its own take on the controversy in late June.

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Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price

In the run-up to what would in normal times be the festive season sales rush, Ikea has vowed to buy back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price
Got any pieces of Ikea furniture at home? You may be able to get rid of it and get money back. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Ikea, the world's largest furniture chain, said Tuesday it would begin buying back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

The “Buy Back Friday” scheme, timed to coincide with the “Black Friday” pre-Christmas retail frenzy, will run from November 24th and until December 3rd in 27 countries.

“Rather than buy things you don't need this Black Friday, we want to help customers give their furniture a second life instead of making an impulse buy,” said Stefan Vanoverbeke, deputy retail operations manager at Ingka Group, Ikea's parent company.

To address concerns its affordable, flat-pack products encourage overconsumption and waste, the Swedish company had previously said it would start renting and recycling furniture as part of an eco-drive.

Under its buyback scheme, the group said that “anything that can't be resold will be recycled or donated to community projects to help those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Some countries like Australia and Canada for example are currently testing different buyback services, but BuyBack Friday will be the first time that 27 countries do this together,” the statement added.

The Swedish giant employs over 217,000 people and has more than 50 outlets. Its annual turnover is around 40 billion euros ($46 billion).

The group did not specify how it would determine the price paid for second-hand furniture and customers will receive a voucher, not cash, for their products.  

As part of efforts to reduce waste, Ikea has already begun repairing and re-packaging products in every store that have been damaged in transit, as well as allowing customers to return products – including furniture – for resale or donation to charities.