Ikea accused of mistreating German workers

Swedish home furnishing giant Ikea has been accused of illegal labour practices, including secretly filming its workers, in a German television documentary to air on Tuesday.

The “Frontal21” programme on the ZDF channel said the Swedish furniture retailer kept illegal reports about workers’ health, demanded employees regularly work exhausting shifts and subverted the works councils of its German stores.

“Ikea demands everything from its workers: complete flexibility, physical labour until exhaustion and sickness is almost never excused,” Verdi union official Christina Frank told ZDF.

An Ikea spokeswoman told AFP the ZDF report was “untrue” and that a full statement would be released later.

ZDF gave documents and materials it received from Ikea workers to Gerhard Bosch, a professor at the Institute for Work and Qualifications, to review.

Bosch described Ikea’s practices as part of “a tight-fisted system of control that doesn’t allow employees any free space.”

The ZDF report comes after a wave of similar reports about unauthorized video surveillance of employees by German retailers including the discount chain Lidl and Balzac, a chain of coffee houses.

Ikea has 43 stores in Germany and employees 13,700 workers. Ikea’s German operations reported sales of €3.2 billion (5.9 billion dollars) in 2007.


Danish Ikea store shelters staff and customers overnight during snowstorm

Heavy snowfall left 31 people looking for a spare cushion at the Aalborg branch of Ikea on Wednesday as they were forced to spend the night at the store.

A file photo at Ikea in Aalborg, where 31 people stayed overnight during a snowstorm on December 1st 2021.
A file photo at Ikea in Aalborg, where 31 people stayed overnight during a snowstorm on December 1st 2021. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Anyone who has found themselves wandering the mazy aisles of an Ikea might be able to empathise with the sense of being lost in the furniture store for a seemingly indefinite time.

Such a feeling was probably more real than usual for six customers and 25 staff members who were forced to spend the night at the furniture giant’s Aalborg branch after being snowed in.

Heavy snow in North Jutland brought traffic to a standstill and halted public transport in parts of the region on Wednesday afternoon, resulting in a snow-in at Ikea.

“This is certainly a new situation for us,” Ikea Aalborg store manager Peter Elmose told local media Nordjyske, which first reported the story.

“It’s certainly not how I thought my day would end when I drove to work this morning,” Elmose added.

The 31 people gathered in the store’s restaurant area and planned to see Christmas television and football to pass the evening, the store’s manager reported to Nordjyske.

“Our kitchen staff have made sure there is hot chocolate, risalamande, pastries, soft drinks, coffee and the odd beer for us in light of the occasion. So we’ll be able to keep warm,” he said.

“We couldn’t just send them outside and lock the door behind them at our 8pm closing time. Absolutely not. So of course they’ll be staying here,” he added.

The temporary guests were given lodging in different departments of the store in view of the Covid-19 situation, Nordjyske writes.

“For us , the most important thing was to take care of each other and that everyone feels safe,” Elmose said.

At least Ikea’s stranded customers and staff had somewhere comfortable to lay their heads.

The same can unlikely be said for around 300 passengers at the city’s airport who had to stay overnight at the terminal.

The airport was forced to stop flights from 2:30pm yesterday amid worsening weather, which also prevented buses from transferring passengers to hotels.

“We have around 300 people in the terminal right now and have been giving out blankets on the assumption they will be staying here tonight,” Aalborg Airport operations manager Kim Bermann told Nordjyske.

READ ALSO: Ikea reopens in Denmark after country’s worst retail month this century