Monday, December 16, 2013

IKEA responds

Hello Mr. Durke,

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns regarding the current situation in Richmond.

We recognize this is a difficult time for our co-workers and this is a very polarizing issue. However, there are a few points we would like to clarify regarding our current situation in Richmond. We think it’s important for you to know that we have been bargaining in good faith for ten months with the Union representing our Richmond store co-workers; but, we remain at an impasse despite our recent efforts to achieve a settlement through mediation in August.

IKEA has come to the table with a number of recommendations, which have all been refused by the Union. The union’s demands are unreasonable and would create inequities across the organization. It is our goal to ensure that wages and benefits for all employees across Canada are above industry standards and are fair and equitable.

While the Union representing our co-workers believes this dispute is a lockout, a recent ruling by the Labour Relations Board has found that the Teamsters Union is in fact on “strike” at IKEA Richmond. The ruling follows a hearing on September 4, where the Labour Board heard from both IKEA and the Teamsters. The Labour Board determined that the Teamsters Union held a strike vote, gave strike notice and has maintained a picket line since May 13.  This meets the definition of a strike.

The Teamsters have also continually challenged the fairness of the rejected offer.  The recent ruling by the Labour Board also indicated, “The wage rates of employees at the IKEA Richmond store are above the industry standard and very few retailers provide a comparable benefit package.”

The offer that was rejected included continued wage increases for all co-workers with most increases between 4%-15% per year. There were no wage reductions for current co-workers.  Keep in mind 50% of co-workers earn over $18/hour and 25% earn over $21/hour. All IKEA Richmond co-workers make above minimum wage. The offer also included competitive benefits for part-time and full-time co-workers, including 12 paid sick days for full-time co-workers and eight paid sick days for part-time co-workers.  This is unheard of in the retail industry.

Throughout this dispute, IKEA continues to be committed to providing our co-workers with employment conditions that exceed industry standards. We will not waiver from this commitment under any circumstances. We are proud to offer wages that are well above the retail industry standard as noted above, even though IKEA Richmond is the lowest performing store in productivity and has the highest staff costs.

IKEA continues to be open to returning to the bargaining table at any time with the union. We believe that at this time, after having several fair and generous offers rejected, it is the union’s responsibility to come forward with a reasonable offer. 

Please be assured we want nothing more than to return to business as usual and welcome our co-workers back into the store so we can return to what we do best – providing outstanding service and products to our loyal customers. IKEA cares about the Richmond co-workers and we understand this is a difficult time; however, they are welcome to return to work anytime.

Name withheld

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