BWI urges IKEA supplier to respect union rights

BWI urged an IKEA supplier in Gornji Podgradci, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to respect and recognise its workers’ trade union rights. 

In an initial letter sent to Nova Dipo Company on 17 September 2020, BWI Global Director for Wood and Forestry Coen van der Veer raised the company’s violations of freedom of association and poor working conditions. He also asked the company to allow the elected members of the trade union committee to continue with their work, talk to their colleagues and start collective bargaining negotiations.  

It was reported that the company’s managers unilaterally and without proper justification put 11 union officials under ‘forced paid leave’ and hired new workers to substitute them in their work. This was confirmed by stories narrated by workers to BWI and its “Caravan of Workers’ Stories,” a campaign to enable IKEA workers in different countries to share with one another their working lives and experiences. 

Workers interviewed by the BWI-affiliated Trade Union of Forestry, Wood Processing and Paper of Republic of Srpska, said that their attempt to organize as a union was met by harassment from the company management. They reported that the elected members of their union committee were sent on paid leave, other union members were discriminated against, threatened with contract terminations and even physically harmed.

The workers also said that they suffer from grueling working conditions and poor occupational health and safety standards. They narrated how they are being required to work for 9-10 hours every day without overtime pay amidst the company’s lack of commitment to provide transportation.

Nova Dipo, in a letter responding to BWI on 2 October, denied all the charges and said it was open for dialogue. However, it continued to deny the 11 elected union committee members access to their workplaces and didn’t allow them to talk to their colleagues. 

“The current situation at the Nova Dipo company is clear proof that the management is not committed to respect the workers’ freedom of association and right to collective bargaining as mandated by national and international laws and standards, as well as by the IWAY code of conduct. We have  given the management ten (10) working days to lift its ‘forced paid leave’ policy imposed to union committee members, allow union officials full access to the workplace and their colleagues, and engage in a meaningful dialogues with the by the workers elected representation. Otherwise, we will file the appropriate complaints against the company before all available grievance mechanisms,” van der Veer said.   

Read BWI’s new letter to Nova Dipo.