Posted 19 декабря 2022,, 13:39

Published 19 декабря 2022,, 13:39

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Corporation against people. Employees told how they worked and how they fought against IKEA

Corporation against people. Employees told how they worked and how they fought against IKEA

19 декабря 2022, 13:39
IKEA plans to lay off its last employees by the end of the year. Thousands of employees of the distribution network left the stores in the fall. But a few continue to fight for jobs and are preparing to go to court. Novye Izvestiya listened to the monologues of people who gave the company decades.

Alexander Dybin

IKEA in March 2022 announced the termination of business in Russia. In the summer, it launched the process of laying off more than 10,000 employees across the country, and also began to prepare for the sale of three of its plants. However, part of the company's huge staff refused to quit, demanding either to keep their jobs or to provide more fair compensation. Despite loud statements, IKEA is not leaving Russia completely, the Mega shopping malls belonging to it, as well as other legal entities that were part of the distribution network, remain in operation. Novye Izvestia talked to the company's employees, who recalled the pleasant moments of working at IKEA, and also talked about how they faced the corporation face to face.

Nina Kharitonova. Novosibirsk. Salesperson in the furniture department. Work experience 12 years:

Professionally, I was lucky. I graduated from the institute at the peak of the crisis. I tried to get a job as a social pedagogue. But the seller's salary then was almost twice as much. And, in general, I do not regret it. The salary of a social pedagogue is not high even now, plus the workload, bureaucracy. My priority was family and children, I didn’t want to carry papers home from work that needed to be filled out, I didn’t want to write plans at night, but work according to a clear schedule.

About the union

I joined the union after trying to fire me, when I came out of maternity leave with my second child. He went to kindergarten, was often sick, and I was rudely offered to quit because I interfere with my sick leave. In general, at that moment I had plans to change jobs. But since they decided to throw me out, I decided not to quit out of spite. Some kind of intuition worked, I recorded the conversation when they threatened me, how all the bosses gathered to throw me out of work alone. I wrote it down and handed it over to the prosecutor's office. They left me behind. But after talking with former colleagues, I found out that I was not the only one who was kicked out like that, and not only for sick leave. It is enough to fall into disgrace, to defend your point of view. People were also threatened to sign the agreement of the parties. This was the birth of the trade union in Novosibirsk.

In fact, if the employer does not violate the laws, then the trade union is beneficial to him. Firstly, everyone who is not satisfied goes to the union, and the employer has a general picture: what to dislike, what needs to be changed. This is an additional point of control. If the union finds a violation, it can be quickly corrected. And if this violation is found by a state agency, labor or fire inspection, in this case there will be a fine.

At first they treated me with disdain. I am an emotional person, I could even shout, then they began to listen, and until the moment the store closed, everything was fine. The management itself invited us to investigate injuries and sign documents. We have achieved a lot over the years, for example, knocked out an additional 5 minutes before and after the change to change clothes. This time was included in working hours. It would seem a trifle - 10 minutes a day. But a week is almost an hour. But everything has changed globally this year after the store closed. There is a suspicion that the management of a company from an unfriendly country already in early March understood that this would be a closure. They simply stopped interacting with the trade union and workers, they began to ignore us.

About IKEA care

I see clear political motives in this whole situation. Two years before that there was a pandemic, then supply chains were also disrupted. But the stores continued to trade, if they closed, then they traded online. According to various estimates, the localization of production was from 50 to 80%. This means that the goods were produced in Russia, some were brought from China, with which we are friends. And everything would be solved, it would be possible to replace the assortment that was produced in Europe. I don't think there was any irreplaceable part of the production. I would not say that "an era is leaving". What era? All the same will be sold not in one place, but in different ones. And with marketplaces, there will be no difference at all. The problem could be solved. As they did in Obi. I think this is not only a fault of the leadership, but also of local management. When the western management of Obi said “we are closing”, the locals said “here it is”, and continue to work. In this closure and liquidation, I see precisely the political overtones. How the Netherlands generally relates to the Russian Federation, for example, being included in the register of countries sponsoring terrorism, this implies that they are not going to conduct any economic activity with us. There would be some moment of justice if everyone were fired. But all management remained at work. As far as we know, they were employed by another legal entity, which also belongs to IKEA. The management remains, and the employees - go out. Why someone was left, and someone was kicked out on New Year's Eve.

During these months, when stores were idle and there was a final sale, people lived in conditions of instability and uncertainty of confidence in the future. Stupid weekly gatherings where the director told how good everything was. And you are sitting in a cold store at 19 degrees, wrapped in a blanket, and freezing in the dark. Because the lighting and heating were turned off to save money. And they tell you how we will open not today or tomorrow. I think it was a psychological trick. When the liquidation was announced, many took the decision to reduce as a relief. Yes, even if they did not offer payments, people would still exhale, they were so screwed up. But with payments, too, everything is not so simple: many people worked on an incomplete contract, for example, for 20 hours a week. And the level of income was pulled out due to additional shifts and processing. But while they sat and waited, there were no additional men, and the level of income decreased. And compensation was calculated based on the contract.

What do those who refused to quit want?

I have personally experienced a lot of negativity from former colleagues. Those who quit in the summer and autumn write to me that I have nothing to do. Only a few refused to quit, these people did not see the benefit in this. For example, retirees. If they leave by agreement, they need to look for a new job, which is difficult. If they are reduced by liquidation, they will be able to retire early. Women on maternity leave, who had small contracts, refused, while they are registered, they will receive an allowance of 40% of their salary.

There was no particular negativity towards me from the authorities. But I tell them to their faces that they are accomplices of unfriendly countries and undermine the social situation in the country. Apparently, they have advice somewhere inside and they try not to even look at me.

Hope Adushkina. Ekaterinburg. Designer. Experience 15 years:

I came to IKEA as a student, worked as a salesperson, then stayed as a designer. Promoted to manager. It was not just a job, but a part of life. Like another child, she required so much effort and time. I have three children and it was difficult to combine, of course, work affected the family, I had to stay late, go on business trips.

I had six subordinates. But the team was friends. We could get together and go snowboarding, solve problems together if someone had them. Were more than colleagues. The management was also inspiring: flexibility, loyalty. Actually, these things played a role when I wanted to quit. Immediately after the pandemic, I was offered a better salary, but the manager convinced me to stay, said that there was stability, and a few months later IKEA announced its withdrawal from Russia. Such an irony of fate.

The only difficult moment is the store manager, who came to us from Turkey. It was hard with him. He has been with the company for 30 years, but he has a different mentality. It was difficult for him that we are used to doing everything with high quality, but for a long time. He needed everything at once. We rushed about like you put out a fire every day.

Strange dismissal

When we were sent to idle time, Moscow managers gathered us once every two weeks and said: “you hold on, you are great, remember all your victories, etc.” No one offered me to resign under the agreement and receive compensation. A messy story happened to me. I got on the list of people who remain in the company. Allegedly, it is necessary to maintain competencies and decided to leave experienced employees. Then suddenly someone changed their mind, and they decided to cut me. But I didn't get any compensation. They told me: you just have a contraction.

All this time I went to work, asked what tasks I had, how I could help. We were transferred to the office of "Mega" (SEC "Mega" also belongs to IKEA, but they did not stop working). And everything is remote. We were told that they would find us a job, but in the end they just fired us, so I decided to sue. I want to understand why, such selectivity: someone stayed, someone was compensated, and someone - nothing. I even wrote to Sweden, but no one answered me.

Catherine. Saint Petersburg. Commodity department employee. Experience 18 years:

I joined the company in 2005. This was the boom of IKEA development. Then it was a very good employer. Russian companies rarely offered such conditions: insurance, training, education, and not only in their specialty, but, for example, English. The company built teamwork so that everyone within the team would help each other. There were discounts in the pool, fitness, camp for children, gifts for the New Year. But over time, much of this has disappeared.

After IKEA announced its departure, it was we who did not have less work. First, an inventory was carried out, then a sale. All this time, the management said that IKEA would not leave Russia, they were convinced that the company loves Russia and will look for every opportunity to leave the business. Nobody worried. And then from the Internet we learned about the liquidation.

I did not agree to the payment of compensation and voluntary care, because the work is more important than compensation. Plus, the company has made an agreement convenient for itself, according to which you waive all claims. In addition, the amounts were embarrassing: people who came to work in February, then immediately went into idle time, and they were offered the same amounts as people who had worked for 10 years. We felt that this was not fair.

Now I am waiting for the dismissal, it should take place in the last days of December. After that, I and the people who find themselves in the same situation will sue and seek restoration. As far as we know, some of the staff remained at work, they were transferred to another legal entity. For example, my supervisor continues to work. In total, according to our estimates, about 100 employees remained at two St. Petersburg stores, who support life in them.

For a long time we tried to find out by what logic we determined those few who would remain at work. Even at the stage of dismissal, by agreement of the parties, someone had a departure date of August 31, someone - October 31. How these dates were chosen is not clear. Moreover, it was impossible to voice colleagues when you were fired. All signed a non-disclosure agreement. The single mother was supposed to leave on August 31 and asked to extend her agreement. She was denied. And a person who worked 16 hours a month and spent half on sick leave worked to the last. We have not found this logic. Judging by the fact that there is only one management left at work, I conclude that they left more loyal people. These people will be able to support the business process and help IKEA get back on the market when things get better. Only one company, Ikea Dom, was liquidated, because it had the entire mass of employees.

Sad story. The company positioned itself as a corporation that strives to make everyone's life better and that a person is the highest value. We were told that employees are more important than business. And now it turns out that the company has not turned its face to people at all and left in its own interests.

Kirill Leontiev, St. Petersburg. Collector of furniture. Experience 11 years:

I worked as an assembler of furniture that was exhibited in the trading floors. When I came to work for the company, it offered good working conditions. But, apparently, with the advent of Russian management, everything went differently, the attitude became different, at first they valued personnel, and then they worked on the principle of “no one is indispensable.” You can always find a hard worker for 40 thousand. For myself, I note this trend in the canteen: when I first started working, meals for employees were inexpensive and tasty, then it became more expensive and not tasty. No one could figure out who was to blame: the chefs or the suppliers, but it got worse and worse.

I organized a trade union after there was an excess and they tried to get rid of me. I found people who care, there were five of them and we opened a cell. Probably, the main thing that we did within the framework of the trade union was work on a special assessment of working conditions. I participated in all measurements. When management does this, everyone is fine. And when the trade union participates, in some positions it was necessary to introduce “harmfulness”. Because we didn't let them paint on the numbers. This is how a man worked for five years and did not know that he had harmful working conditions, that he should be paid extra, that he would retire earlier.

Of course, they looked askance at me and other activists. It seems that the union is protection. But you have to be crystal clear, don't be late, don't break the schedule. There was no direct pressure, but they were quietly looking for an excuse. In 11 years, I was late for work only once. I was immediately deprived of the 13th salary.

I also judge the importance of our trade union activities by the fact that the company has opened a whole department that was engaged in the decomposition of activists. A female psychologist worked for us, by the way, they left her. She conducted dialogues with us, tried to bring confusion and split us, sow the seed of doubt that we are doing something important. She convinced that the company was loyal, and we were somehow abnormal.

When IKEA announced its departure, more than 130 people joined the union. This is a serious number. Then they began to somehow reckon with us, to negotiate. It was loudly announced that IKEA was gone. But it's not. This is a conglomerate of legal entities and only one company is being closed. All those who were needed from the employees were transferred to another legal entity. In St. Petersburg, where there were two stores, out of 700 people, about 30 kept their jobs, mostly management. Everyone else was thrown out. The company is under warranty for two years.

I refused to "leave in a good way" with the payment of 7-8 salaries, because there were no guarantees. It was prescribed for me that I would receive 370 thousand rubles. But it was also indicated that if I have penalties, I will lose this money. In addition, the agreement contained a clause stating that the employee had no claims against the company. We offered to remove these items, but received a categorical refusal. In the fall, when the bulk of the employees left, only refuseniks remained, we found ourselves in the majority and announced the start of collective bargaining. The company did not like it, they evaded in every way, did not give answers, asked for documents that we could not have in principle. From them there was a total ignore and denial. They didn’t even respond to statements, although they were obliged to. I did not think that I would be fired, according to the law it is prohibited if I am a member of the commission on a collective dispute. But no, a special officer arrived from Moscow and read the order to me. They also fired another activist, by the end of December they plan to fire the rest. But we will fight to the end until we achieve justice, we will go to court. The company has always said that employees are the most important thing. But it turns out it's not.