IKEA’s Swedwood operation in Danville, VA, announced at a recent staff meeting that the company was eliminating 66 percent of its workers’ voluntary vacation time. The furniture-maker workers would only have four days of voluntary vacation time a year. Use of remaining days would be at the company’s discretion.
“First, Swedwood took away these workers’ overtime pay for weekend work,” said William Street, Director of the IAM Woodworkers Department. “Then, they forced them to work weekends. Now, they are taking away most of their voluntary vacation time. They routinely force workers to change shifts and to work overtime with no notice. It is a systematic attack on these workers and their families. They are taking away a wage benefit after it has been earned. In many states in the U.S. this would be illegal.”
The average voluntary vacation time for Swedwood workers in Sweden is about six times longer than the new policy in Danville. It is unclear if maintenance workers, in particular, will even get the four days since they will most likely be required to work during the mandatory vacation time.
The Machinists Union is exploring legal remedies within the Commonwealth of Virginia, which has some of the weakest wage and hour laws in the U.S.
Letters to the IKEA CEO can still be sent from www.goiam.org/Ikea