Ready to mediate Ikea strike

What to do with strike breakers?

Both sides in the long-running labour dispute involving the Richmond Ikea store are hoping mediator Vince Ready can work his magic to end the 16-month impasse.

Ready was brought on board this week after the union representing the 300 or so members of Teamsters Local 213 made the suggestion to the employer, said Ikea spokeswoman Madeleine Lowenborg-Frick.

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“Ikea proposed mediation on Friday (Sept. 19) to support the bargaining process. The union has agreed,” said Lowenborg-Frick in an email, adding talks were scheduled for Sept. 23 and 24. “The union suggested Vince Ready and we agreed.”

Ready oversaw talks between the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association and B.C. Teachers’ Federation which concluded with an agreement last week that had teachers and students back in classes beginning this week.

Public schools had been behind picket lines since the second week of June.

One of the main issues outstanding in the dispute involving Ikea, which began in mid May 2013, is the future of 35 workers who crossed their own union’s picket lines.

Teamsters expelled those workers from the union for their actions and requested they be re-assigned to another store, or assume management positions.

Ikea stated last week the Labour Relations Board found the union’s request to remove the employees would have been against the Canada Labour Code. A second LRB ruling denied Ikea’s appeal to overturn its earlier judgement the company had bargained directly with employees who returned to work by offering different conditions during the strike than what had been offered to the union during bargaining.

According to Ikea, the conditions included weekend overtime and $2.50 an hour premiums for some employees.

Union representative Anita Dawson said at the time Ikea is not allowed to continue to pay the enhanced wages and the union will be pursuing damages.

For the employer’s part, Lowenborg-Frick said Ikea was solely looking to compensate its employees for the added work they are doing during the strike.

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