IKEA Workers in Russia build trade union organization

12 February 2019 10:23


From 4 to 9 February, the Russian Timber Workers’ Trade Union (RTWU) ran an organizing drive at an IKEA factory in Tikhvin, Russia. Sixteen trade union leaders, activists and organizers from different regions of Russia came to Tikhvin to support a company-level trade union organization and to bring union support to IKEA workers.

The RTWU helped IKEA workers in Tikhvin to organize a company-level trade union in 2017. “Before the Russian Timber Workers’ Trade Union approached us, we did not know anything about trade unions. The union helped us to start our own trade union and solve problems that we could not solve without the union support,” said Olga Lebezkina, leader of the IKEA-Tikhvin plant union.

“Olga Lebezkina asked us to help her reach out to workers at her plant. She is a trade union leader, but she is also an IKEA worker, who works 12-hour shifts. It is very hard for her to find enough time to talk with workers on different shifts, as factory is huge with a workforce of 1,200 workers,” said Denis Zhuravlev, president of RTWU.

During the six-day organizing drive, trade union leaders, activists and organizers talked with workers to provide them information about the union. They union even conducted a legal clinic on the trade union bus, where union representatives provided legal advice to workers during lunch time and breaks.

During the organizing blitz the union met with the local IKEA management at the Tikhvin plant to discuss an agreement on trade union rights and other guarantees within the frame of the national collective agreement. The second scheduled set of negotiations are to take place at the end of month.

On the last day of the organizing drive, the Russian Timber Workers’ Trade Union organized a trade union concert for IKEA workers, trade union members and their families where more than three hundred people came to get inspired and motivated to continue building their trade union.