News Column

Ikea Knew Forced Labor Made Goods

Nov 16, 12

Swedish furniture company Ikea knew some of its products were made with forced labor in former communist East Germany, says a report released Friday.

The report produced by auditors Ernst & Young found some Ikea employees knew components of the furniture were produced by political and criminal prisoners in what was then the German Democratic Republic, The New York Times reported.

Ikea commissioned the report in May after reports surfaced about a year ago that prisoners were forced to make the merchandise 25 to 30 years ago.

"We deeply regret that this could happen," Jeanette Skjelmose, sustainability manager at Ikea, said in a statement.

"Even though Ikea Group took steps to secure that prisoners were not used in production, it is now clear that these measures were not effective enough," the company said.

Ikea said it would donate money to research projects about forced labor in the GDR.

The report said a labor shortage in the GDR often forced state-owned companies to use prison labor without regard to why individual workers were incarcerated.

Ernst & Young said Ikea employees visited manufacturing facilities where the company's products were made but the government restricted where and when they could go.

Investigators talked to more than 90 current and former Ikea employees and witnesses and looked at archival documents to produce the report.

Source: Copyright United Press International 2012

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