IKEA regrets use of forced labor in East Germany

BERLIN — Swedish furniture giant IKEA expressed regret Friday that it benefited from the use of forced prison labor by some of its suppliers in communist East Germany more than two decades ago.

The company released an independent report showing that East German prisoners, among them many political dissidents, were involved in the manufacture of goods supplied to IKEA between 25 and 30 years ago.

The report concluded that IKEA managers were aware of the possibility that prisoners would be used in the manufacture of its products and took some measures to prevent this, but they were insufficient.

“We deeply regret that this could happen,” Jeanette Skjelmose, an IKEA manager, said in a statement. “The use of political prisoners for manufacturing was at no point accepted by IKEA.”

But she added that “at the time we didn’t have the well-developed control system that we have today and we clearly did too little to prevent such production methods.”

IKEA asked auditors Ernst &Young in June to look into allegations aired earlier this year by a Swedish television documentary, but first raised by a human rights group in 1982.

Rainer Wagner, chairman of the victims’ group UOKG, said IKEA was just one of many companies that benefited from the use of forced prison labor in East Germany from the 1960s to 1980s.

“IKEA is only the tip of the iceberg,” he told The Associated Press in an interview earlier this week.

Wagner said he hoped that IKEA and others would consider compensating former prisoners, many of whom carry psychological and physical scars from arduous labor they were forced to do.

“IKEA has taken the lead on this, for which we are very grateful,” he told a news conference in Berlin.

More in Herald Business Journal

Snohomish County’s campaign to land the 797 takes off

Executive Dave Somers announced the formation of a task force to urge Boeing to build the plane here.

A decade after the recession, pain and fear linger

No matter how good things are now, it’s impossible to forget how the collapse affected people.

Panel: Motorcycle industry in deep trouble and needs help

They have failed to increase sales by making new riders out of women, minorities and millennials.

Costco rises as results display big-box retailer’s resiliency

Their model has worked in the face of heightened competition from online, brick-and-mortar peers.

For modern women, 98-year-old rejection letters still sting

In a stark new video, female Boeing engineers break the silence about past inopportunity.

Tax reform needs the public’s input on spending priorities

The GOP tax plan is a good idea, but the next step should give us a voice on how taxes are spent.

Commentary: GM, Boeing fight a war of words over Mars

Boeing is strongly signaling how crucial deep-space exploration is to its future.

Under cloud of ethics probes, Airbus CEO Enders to step down

He leaves in 2019 after 14 years. Meanwhile, aircraft division CEO Fabrice Bregier leaves in February.

$4.99 sandwich promotion irks some Subway business owners

Management insists that “most franchisees support the promotion.”

Most Read