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Workers stand with locked-out Ikea staff

Rallies staged across the world in solidarity with Teamsters members

Workers around the world stepped up their solidarity with locked-out Ikea comrades in Canada.

Ikea Richmond has locked 350 workers out for nearly seven months for having the temerity to reject a discriminatory two-tier pay system.

Retail union federation Uni Global sent solidarity messages yesterday from its three million affiliated members.

Workers from Belgium, Turkey, Denmark, Poland, Japan, Brazil, Britain and elsewhere expressed "full solidarity with our sisters and brothers at Ikea Richmond and your union the Teamsters.

"It is time that Ikea puts its own values into practice and stops its anti-union practices and intimidation of workers, ends the lockout that has lasted for almost seven months and returns to the bargaining table in good faith," they said.

It came a day after the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) organised solidarity actions at 10 international ports across the world.

Port workers in Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Denmark, Britain and Canada held banners reading: "Dockers solidarity with Ikea workers."

ITF Canada co-ordinator Peter Lahay branded the lockout "inexcusable."

He said: "These workers exercised their legal right to vote down Ikea's demands for a discriminatory wage system and cuts to family healthcare benefits.

The Sweden-based multinational "is holding the workers hostage while they stand outside in the winter - at Christmas time."

ITF and Uni Global mounted a fact-finding mission into the lockout and presented a report to Handels, the union representing Ikea shop workers in Sweden.

The unions found that Ikea Richmond changed its legal counsel to notoriously anti-union firm Fasken Martineau in 2010, heralding a vicious assault on labour relations.

Keith Austin, a 27-year-old locked-out shop worker who made the journey to Stockholm, accused the multibillion-pound firm of "holding 300 families hostage," refusing to let them work unless they surrender their rights.

"I came to Sweden to ask Ikea why it has hired notoriously anti-union lawyers to sit at the bargaining table in Canada and pretend to negotiate while our families suffer at Christmas time," he said.

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