News has come out that the Histadrut, Israel’s national trade union centre, has launched an organizing campaign at the country’s IKEA furniture stores. The Histadrut aims to recruit one third of IKEA staff which would give it the legal right to represent workers in the company.
Israeli media reports, however, miss a key point.
In the report in the business daily newspaper Globes, the employer (IKEA) is shown as welcoming unions:
IKEA Israel’s management said in response, “IKEA respects its employees and considers their unionization as legitimate, so long as it is carried out without disrupting the activity of the stores and their customers.”
But in many other countries, workers have had to put up with stiff resistance from IKEA management. LabourStart has a considerable number of news stories about the Swedish-owned company which show it resisting unionization campaigns in the USA, Turkey, Italy and elsewhere.
Just six months ago, one report began:
Swedish unions have blasted furniture giant Ikea following reports that workers at Ikea stores in Turkey have been threatened and harassed over union membership.
This puts the Histadrut attempt to unionize IKEA in context. The success the Israeli unions are having — and not only in IKEA, as the Globes story confirms — is due to earlier wins at other companies and to court decisions forcing employers to remain neutral during organizing drives.