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

Camano artist mixes flask, paintings for successful cocktail

Art flasks prove popular as bachelorette gifts, birthday presents and wedding favors.

Small retailers aim for emotional ties big chains may lack

“Put yourself into the community more and the money will come back to you.”

A look at what some stores have planned for Black Friday

With unemployment low, stores are hoping customers are in a mood to shop.

Boeing bolsters team for potential 797 with leading engineer

Terry Beezhold has been chief project engineer for the 777X program.

Uber paid off their hackers — they’re far from the only ones

“More and more companies have their own Bitcoin wallets for such cases.”

Airline defendants to pay $95 million in 9/11 settlement

The litigation claimed that security lapses led the planes to be hijacked in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Trump SoHo to shed ‘Trump’ amid reports of sagging business

The president’s company said it would have no comment beyond its news release announcing the move.

Uber reveals cover-up of hack affecting 57M riders, drivers

Uber acknowledges paying the hackers $100,000 to destroy the stolen information a year ago.

Mountlake Terrace-based 1st Security Bank wasn’t traded publicly during the recession, but it has seen a steady growth since the recession. (Jim Davis / HBJ)
How stocks in local banks fared since the recession

Every bank was hit hard during the recession, but most have bounced back in a big way.

Most Read