Strikes at Ikea stores in France have temporarily shut down five stores near Paris, and company officials say they are ready to talk. Employees say the Ikea's profits are enormous, and they want a share of the wealth.
Swedish furniture giant Ikea has offered to negotiate with union leaders in France after store employees began striking and shut down five Paris-area stores.
The strikes began Saturday at the Ikea warehouse in Plaisir, also home to the company's French headquarters, and later spread to a total of 10 stores.
Ikea's offer to negotiate hanged on the condition that six workers currently camped out at the headquarters end their sit-in.
The workers say this is the first time in several years that employees have not been given a general pay raise. The company has instead offered raises on a case-by-case basis.
"When I joined Ikea it was Las Vegas here," one worker told France 2 TV channel. "This company really used to go out of its way to help its employees ... but things are deteriorating fast."
A slice of the profit-pie
A normal salary at Ikea in France is 1,100 to 1,200 euros per month after national insurance contributions but before taxes, which is close to the statutory minimum wage. The unions want a 4-percent raise, giving them a share of Ikea's profits, which they say are enormous.
But Ikea's head of communication Pierre Deyries said the company's employees already have a good deal.
"Everyone who works with us gets paid for thirteen months a year," he said. "Everyone who works with us gets a bonus which we think will be worth a month's salary in 2010. And everyone who works with us gets another bonus linked to the firm's annual results because, it is true, this company is making a profit."
Author: John Laurenson /acb
Editor: Andreas Illmer