New deal would have seen employees at B.C. store back to work before Christmas, company says
The labour dispute between the IKEA store in Richmond, B.C., and Teamsters Local 213 continues after the union rejected the company’s latest proposal.
Teamsters Local 213 president Ray Zigmont met with IKEA’s global head of labour relations and IKEA Canada’s senior vice president on Dec. 17 in an attempt to end the months-long dispute. IKEA’s proposal would have allowed all of the Richmond IKEA employees to return to work under the terms and conditions of the expired agreement while the parties resumed negotiations over the next six months.
Employees have been picketing at the Richmond store since May 13. The union served IKEA with a 72-hour strike notice in early May in response to the company’s contract proposal. The proposal introduced a two-tier wage scale and the union said the contract would make it harder for employees to receive benefits.
IKEA responded to the strike notice with a one-hour lockout. The company says employees have been encouraged to return to work — calling the resulting labour action a strike — while the union claims the lockout has been ongoing.
In a press release the company claimed Teamsters Local 213 rejected its latest suggestion in early December because it meant the 35 employees expelled from union membership during the labour dispute would be allowed to continue working alongside union members during the six-month negotiation period.
“The intent of the interim proposal was to allow both parties to achieve a renewed collective agreement that addresses the store’s operational concerns while minimizing the ongoing impact to IKEA Richmond employees,” the company said in its statement. “IKEA has encouraged the union to reconsider their position in order to allow all employees the opportunity to return to work prior to Christmas.”
The company said that, after proposing four “fair and generous” offers, it is now the union’s responsibility to return to the bargaining table with a solution.
Teamsters Local 213 represents 350 members at the Richmond IKEA, and more than 10,000 employees working in industries that include manufacturing, security and retail.