Ikea Korea labor union members hold placards to demand improved treatment to match that of stores in other countries, in front of the Ikea store in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 3. (Korean Federation of Service Workers’ Union)
Ikea Korea’s labor union plans to launch a three-day strike next week, accusing the Swedish furniture brand of discriminatory treatment toward local staff.
About 800 of the workers at the company’s outlets in Gwangmyeong, Goyang and Yongin in Gyeonggi Province and its service call centers will join the walkout from Dec. 24-27, said the union affiliated with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions on Thursday.
That constitutes one-third of Ikea Korea’s 2,500 employees.
“Ikea is discriminating against workers in the Korean branch from those in other overseas units. It has also rejected our calls to improve the labor conditions to match those of average local hypermarkets here,” the labor union said, holding a press conference in front of Ikea’s Gwangmyeong store.
“In the past seven months of negotiations, the management always talked about ‘global standard,’ but did not implement any of policies that would incur cost or put any burden on the business operation.”
This year, the management and unionized workers held 28 rounds of negotiations but failed to mend differences.
According to the union, the average hourly wage of Ikea employees overseas is $15, but Korean employees receive half of that at 8,590 won ($7.90), which is the nation’s minimum wage.
Workers in Korea are also missing out on overtime pay on weeknights and weekends given in other countries, which are set at rates of 120 percent and 150 percent, respectively, the union said.
The labor group also pointed to the lack of benefits that other local hypermarkets provide workers, such as pay for meals, paid breaks and a proper system for sick leave.
Addressing the labor union’s claims, Ikea Korea’s management said there is no difference in the way the company compensates its workers around the world.
The furniture maker said all of its stores will operate normally on the strike days the labor union has announced.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com)