Ikea unions form worldwide alliance to promote good standards

Ikea affiliated trade unions across the world announced on Thursday the formation of a border-crossing alliance to promote employee welfare and success of the Swedish furniture giant.

Ikea unions form worldwide alliance to promote good standards

“We have together decided, as this Ikea global union alliance, that we want to work together to promote the same good standards for IKEA workers everywhere,” said Alke Boessiger, head of the UNI Commerce.

While IKEA has very good practises in many countries, there are some situations where unions face challenges, she told AFP in Istanbul.

Referring to a case in Turkey, “workers were dismissed because they were organising other workers into a union,” Boessiger said.

In another case in France, a labour body filed charges against the company after French media alleged that Ikea had illegally spied on staff and customers, and paid for access to police files.

“We could not imagine a company like Ikea could allow opening of files on its workers, union members and even customers,” a representative from the French union Force Ouvriere told AFP.

“We ask ourselves a lot of questions, like where the money came from to do this, who decided and allowed it,” said representative Dominique Nikonoff, who also participated in the three-day meeting.

Although union representatives expressed a belief that such alleged spying had not spread to all Ikea stores, Turkish labour group Koop-Is claimed local Ikea management was trying to gather information on union members.

“Since last month, the management has been trying to sneak on employees to find out which one of their co-workers are union members,” said Metin Guney, Koop-Is secretary-general.

The Turkish Ikea management, Mapa Mobilya (Furnishing House), was not

immediately available for comment.

Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, runs five stores in four of the country’s provinces and employs around 1,700 people in Turkey.

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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.