27 June 2019: The plant level union of the Russian Timber Workers Trade Union (RTWU) at the Inter-IKEA Industry plant in Tikhvin, Russia signed an agreement on a framework that outlines collaboration and co-operation between the plant level union and the local Inter-IKEA Industry Tikhvin management.
The agreement details guidelines for a number of issues including union accesses to workplaces, representation of union members and union engagement in decision making process regarding workers’ rights including safety and health. The RTWU began negotiations in February 2019 and after five rounds of negotiations the agreement was signed.
“It us took five months to negotiate the agreement and in certain point we came to the deadlock in our negotiations. We are very thankful to all our trade union members for their patience and for the support from other Russian unions. In addition, we are particularly grateful for the assistance provided by BWI in overcoming the deadlock situation. This is agreement is an important first step for RTWU as we work towards establishing similar agreements in other Inter-IKEA Industry plants in Russia,” said Denis Zhuravlev, RTWU president
The BWI and the Swedish union of forestry, wood and graphical workers (GS) outreached to Inter-IKEA global management when it was informed by the RTWU that the Inter-IKEA Industry plants in Russia refused to join the national collective bargaining agreement that includes specific provisions on trade union rights and guarantees. This resulted in a meeting between BWI, GS, and RTWU to discuss the situation in Russia and led to the initial negotiations in Russia.
“I cannot overestimate the importance of this agreement for our trade union members at the Tikhvin plant. In 2017 we began to organize and establish our plant union. There were many occasions when union members were afraid to publicly reveal they belonged to the union for fear of reprisals and discrimination. However, with this agreement, workers no longer need to be afraid as the agreement specifically states that workers are free to join the union and management acknowledges that intolerance to any kind of discrimination on the bases of trade union membership is unacceptable. With this agreement we will continue to outreach to workers and strengthen our union,” said Olga Lebezkina, President of the Inter-IKEA Industry plant level trade union in Tikhvin.
“This victory is the result of the perseverance and commitment of the workers at the Inter-IKEA Industry plant in Tikhvin. I congratulate them and the RTWU in negotiating an agreement that outlines the parameters of a working relationship between the local union and local management.” stated Ambet Yuson, the BWI General Secretary.