Poland: IKEA workers protest unjust wages, prepares for strike vote

The IKEA trade unions Budowlani and Solidarność in Poland initiated a collective dispute process as a response to the company’s refusal to correct the inflation rate factored in the wages of its workers. 

The trade unionists explained that at the start of the year, the IKEA management announced plans to peg the percentage of the workers’ annual wage increase below the country’s inflation rate, thereby increasing wages only by 3 percent. This was strongly opposed by the unions, which pressed for open negotiations. 

The unions said that no real negotiations took place prompting them to start the voting process leading to a possible strike. They argued that they were left with no option but to initiate the procedure of collective dispute to ensure that there is external mediation of the negotiations, and safeguard the IKEA workers’ right to strike. The unions included a PLN 800 (USD 187.5) wage increase, seniority compensations, and a compulsory Sunday day off to their list of demands. 

IKEA reportedly refused to take part in the proposed collective bargaining process, and has resorted to threatening unions with legal action if they discuss the management’s proposals with their members and/or other workers employed in the IKEA Industry. The company also warned workers not to participate in the strike vote, branding it an “illegal action.” 

 BWI Global Director for Wood and Forestry Coen van der Veer said that the IKEA’s refusal to sit down and negotiate with workers violates international labour standards. “This is unacceptable. IKEA violates the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Conventions on the freedom of association and effective recognition of the right of collective bargaining. It violates Poland’s labour laws and even its own key values and code of conduct,” he said. 

"BWI expresses its full solidarity and support to the IKEA workers in Poland. We call on the IKEA management to immediately start negotiations with the unions and stop all false accusations and threats against union leaders,” van der Veer said.