More IKEA workers join union in Poland

“More and more IKEA workers are joining the union.” This was the story narrated by IKEA workers in Poland as part of BWI’s “IKEA Workers’ Caravan of Stories.”

At the IKEA industry factory in Lubawa, Solidarnosc trade union leader Dariusz Kawka said that in the past six months, trade union membership increased by over 50 percent. He attributed this to the workers’ desire to protect their labour rights from the economic instability made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The factory, which employs 1,700 workers, produce furniture for IKEA. The workers are currently organised by Solidarnosc, the independent and self-governing trade union of Poland. 

The Lubawa workers told Solidarnosc that in the past couple of months, they had too much overtime work, with the management increasing their volume of work to deliver overwhelming targets amidst the absence of adequate wage increases. They said that they currently work three eight-hour shifts: morning shift (6 AM to 2 PM), evening shift (2 PM to 10 PM) and night shift (10 PM to 6 AM).

Dariusz said that the IKEA factory in Lubawa is not recognising the union’s new members. “IKEA is citing a new Polish law that allows employers to question the number of trade union members. Employers rarely do this in Poland, and as far as I know, it has never happened at any IKEA Industry factory,” he said. 

“We will bring this issue to the labour court. We consider this as an attempt to undermine the growing trade union membership at the factory,” Daruisz said. 

Despite the challenges, the IKEA workers said that they will continue with their union organising and press their demand for fair wages. “We have to raise our voices and demand fair wages for IKEA Industry workers in Poland. As more workers join our union, we become more hopeful that we will win this struggle,” the workers concluded. 

The “IKEA Workers’ Caravan of Stories” is a BWI campaign to enable IKEA workers in different countries to share with one another their working lives and experiences.