Outsourced IKEA drivers live in their trucks for months

Outsourced IKEA drivers live in their trucks for months

Poor employee work conditions have sparked many headlines over the last 18 months – with IKEA at the centre of the latest controversy.

Sports Direct and recruitment firm Transline Group were the target of a Guardian sting into their treatment of warehouse staff; New Look and River Island were criticised for using suppliers that paid less than the minimum wage; and Uber attracts almost weekly controversy for their treatment of office-based and taxi-driving workers.

Now, Swedish furniture company IKEA have been outed as an employer using lorry firms that pay workers less than three pounds an hour – BBC reports.

The drivers – brought over to Western Europe from firms based in Eastern Europe – live out of their cabs for month on end.

One driver said he felt “like a prisoner” in his cab. Another driver takes home a monthly salary of £420 but in Denmark, where he has been driving. However, the average monthly salary for a driver living and working in Denmark is £1,900.

EU rules are in place to ensure that a driver, posted temporarily away from home, should be guaranteed the host nations minimum rates. However, companies exploit loopholes in the law.

Drivers are known to sleep in sleeping bags in the back of their lorries – even though EU law means that drivers should take 45 hours’ weekly rest away from their cab.

And many are cooking and eating on the roadside – leaving many drivers to fear that they could cause an accident.

Outside the biggest IKEA distribution centre in the world, in Dortmund, Germany, truck drivers have no access to toilets or running water.

Edwin Atema, of trade union FNV, says he believes Ikea must have known of the conditions in which drivers are living.

"The Ukrainian, Moldovan, Polish guys remove the furniture from IKEA, they touch the furniture," he says.

"IKEA is the economic employer of all these workers here. They have so much power. IKEA has the tool in hand to change the business model with an eye blink."

IKEA said it takes what drivers have told the BBC "very seriously'' and are "saddened by the testimonies".

It added: "Through our supplier code of conduct, IWAY, we put clear and strict demands on our transport service providers when it comes to wages, working conditions and following applicable legislation. We also follow up and make regular audits and act to correct any non-compliance.

"Despite our efforts, we do recognise that there are challenges within the transport industry. We are developing IWAY for transport to reduce the risk of social dumping and we also call for joint efforts, on different political levels as well as from key industry stakeholders."

 

Image credit - Mk2010

Comments (1)

  • Sir
    Sir
    Wed, 15 Mar 2017 1:51pm GMT
    How are companies meant to remain competitive in a tough market if they have to pay inflated minimum wage rates and allow ludicrously long breaks (non-productive time) for employees to go home and be with their families.
    So many companies increasingly operating in this way is testimony that employees will have to go the extra mile for their employers or risk losing their job altogether.
    This isn't just a 'rogue' employer or two, this is the essential future of the global market.
    At least that's what a management consultant on £1000 a day told me - so it must be true - she really knows her stuff.

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