Why do we want to gather for social strike at IKEA in Stockholm on March 1st, 2016?

The 1st of March is the day for transnational social strike. Social strike is to re-understand the strike weapon on a changed labour market and direct our gathered strength – not just against isolated working conditions – but also against the social conditions that surround them. It is an attempt to find collaborations between workers’ collectives, unemployed workers, workers without guaranteed contracts, workers without guaranteed citizenship, activists, and organizers. It is an attempt to connect struggles across national borders and across professional borders.

What is our beef with IKEA?

Are they not just one example among countless major corporations that behave any way they please across the globe?

Yes. But there is also something particular about IKEA. Perhaps more than any company, they brand themselves as the nation itself, as Sweden. Which is correct! Sweden and IKEA alike enjoy a reputation as fair and accessible, while being, in regards to the rest of the world, the exact opposite.

In many ways, IKEA also represents “home”. But what type of effect do they have on people who are seeking for new homes in new countries? On people who are fighting to not get evicted from their homes in disenfranchised low-income suburbs? On people who through their jobs at IKEA are trying to work up salaries high enough to even pay for their homes?

  • IKEA has at lightning speed pounced on recently busted labour laws in a pressured Greece; lowering salaries, disregarding collective agreements, inhibiting unions. Those working for IKEA in Greece are losing stable ground and ability to afford the cost of living.
  • IKANO is the name IKEA uses for their very own bank and their very own housing company. All run in the family. IKANO is enforcing an aggressive politics of expulsion in Stockholm’s fringe housing projects. They purchase every existing component of the public housing stock, renovate with IKEA-products and jack the rents without taking heed of tenants’ incomes. In this way forcing residents out of their homes.
  • For people struggling to get asylum and find new homes in safety, IKEA is a major obstacle. By way of merciless tax evasion they suffocate potential access to the resources that would help build a safe social environment. Their aggressive tax planning antics is welfare theft amounting to billions of euros. While our parliaments use “welfare” as an argument to keep refugees out, IKEA basks in the glory of maintaining a worldwide image as self-proclaimed forerunner of a supposed Swedish model, based on welfare guarantees and access to resources – when they in actual fact prevent such welfare through their massive tax evasions.

We want to be able to wake up every morning with the straight-forward knowledge of who the real welfare burden actually is, of who is forcing us out of our homes, and who is cutting our salaries.

But we can’t do this in isolation. It is hard to alone keep yourself reminded of reality.

For this reason we are together temporarily moving in, to Sweden’s largest IKEA outlet. We will bring banners and billboards. But we will also bring pyjamas and toothbrushes. There are plenty of beds. There are kitchens where we can, if nothing else, pretend to cook dinner. There are nicely furnished living rooms where we can hang out and discuss.

Because we need to turn this discussion around. Instead of gullibly swallowing all the jibber-jabber about how salaries need to be cut in order to acclimatize migrant workers, we could direct the demands in the opposite direction. We need to demand back the resources. The ones who buy our labour and sell its products back to us – in this case IKEA – steal from us all.

Allt åt Alla Stockholm