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

Best foot forward: Ferndale company to make custom shoes easy

Long specializing in insoles, Superfeet is putting 3-D machines in stores to make customized shoes.

Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz has been called up and will be spending much of the year away from his office. He is going to Afghanistan. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Port of Everett CEO reporting for duty — in Afghanistan

Les Reardanz has been called to active duty with the Navy for an eight-month deployment.

Alaska Airlines to announce Paine Field destinations Tuesday

The Snohomish County airport’s passenger terminal is slated to see flights this fall.

Early boarding pass: Everett’s rising passenger terminal

Here’s what to expect when two airlines begin passenger service at Paine Field later this year.

Closing of 63 Sam’s Club stores impacts small business

The retailer has historically prided itself on the services it has provided small business members.

Ford goes ‘all in’ on electric cars with $11 billion investment

That’s up from the $4.5 billion that Ford said in late 2015 it would invest through the end of the decade.

New pickups from Ram, Chevy heat up big-truck competition

Big pickup truck sales are important to automakers, which make huge profits on them.

Intel underfoot: Floor sensors rise as retail data source

The sensors can also be used in office buildings to reduce energy costs and nursing homes for falls.

Most Read