Saturday, January 4, 2014

America’s Corporations and Consumers Need to Defend Workers’ Rights as Human Rights

Corporations have a responsibility not only to respect its stockholders and customers but its employees as well. Stockholders and consumers should understand that their experience with businesses who respect these rights would be greatly enhanced.

In France, IKEA allegedly spied on its employees (customers as well) to acquire unflattering personal information. Investigations suggest that the company dug up background information on its employees to quell workplace grievances or to prompt resignations.

And, IKEA has locked out (they insist it’s not a lockout, it’s a strike) 350 workers in Richmond, British Columbia, one of its two Canadian unionized outlets. The company is demanding an agreement from the union on a two-tier pay and benefit system.

But IKEA’s actions are not just French or Canadian issues; they are issues for corporations, consumers, and workers everywhere.

The dispute has attracted international attention. Workers in many countries have protested the Scandinavian furniture retailer’s antiunion stance. In December, unions in nine countries, including the United States, took actions in support of Remington’s workers.

Over this past year, IKEA also has been accused of violating worker’s rights in the United States and seven other countries, including the allegations made by France.

Workers from other countries have protested IKEA’s reprehensible labor management practices, including violations of freedom of association.

In Holland and Belgium, IKEA has also been accused of “social dumping,” which is the practice of companies moving their business production entities from one part of the European Union to another in pursuit of exploiting lower labor costs.

In the United States, inequality has culminated since 1979 to its highest level. A two-tier wage system violates equal pay for equal work and contributes to this rise in inequality.

Corporations have a responsibility not only for the wellbeing of its stockholders and customers but its workers as well. This includes being fair and equitable to stockholders, customers, and workers but not worker inequality for the sake of one over the other. Stockholders need to understand that the corporation they invest in will have greater sustained returns in the long run with a well-run business that adheres to human right principles and respects the wellbeing of all concerned. Consumers need to understand that their experience with businesses who respect these principles would be greatly enhanced. All three have a mutually beneficial relationship that would contribute to the overall success of any business.

Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green