" Synchromysticism:
The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance."

- Jake Kotze

January 8, 2013

Key Strategy?

When we're searching for simply-styled, low-cost furniture, fixtures and accessories, many of us head for Ikea. But there's something most of us don't know: This Swedish company originally used East German prisoners who were incarcerated for their political beliefs, to create these products.

In the November 16th edition of the Guardian, Kate Connolly reports that "a roomful of angry former GDR prisoners first watched--and then started to vent decades worth of anger--as a squirming (Ikea CEO) Peter Betzel formally apologized for using prison labor in the 1970s and 1980s."

Alexander Arnold, who was incarcerated at age 22 for "distributing anti-communist propaganda" when he handed out flyers containing poems by Bertolt Brecht and Hermann Hesse, .says he still has nightmares about the isolation cell where he was sent if he failed to keep up with the heavy work load of making parts for office chairs.

Connolly quotes him as saying, "Each day we worked what amounted to two and a half working days of that of a normal worker on the outside. If we slipped to below 80% of the target set, that's when they'd throw you in the isolation cell, for 10 days at a time.

"By the end of my 11-month sentence, I knew every part of the process, from the rollers on the feet to the spine of the chair." He was also knew that he and his fellow prisoners were working for Ikea. He says, "It was no secret. Their name was on the boxes which the products were packed into and the prison guards didn't keep it a secret from us. Everyone knew. I am relieved that this is finally coming to light. I'm glad that Ikea is taking responsibility but I'm sorry it took someone other than Ikea to bring this to light."

Connolly quotes Betzel as saying, "We regret wholeheartedly that this happened. It is not and never was acceptable to Ikea that it should be selling products made by political prisoners and I would like to express my deepest regret for this to the victims and their families. We took steps to ensure that prisoners were not used in production, but it's now clear to us that these were not decisive enough."
American slave labour.
UPDATE: Jan 9th, 2013.
It would appear that slavery is alive and well all over the world at present, just a little more hidden -
" Imagine competing with an American company that pays its workers less than $1 an hour.
That’s a reality Michael Mansh, president of a small apparel factory in Olive Hill, Ky., faces every day, according to CNNMoney
In February, Mansh reportedly learned that his 100-person factory, Ashland Sales and Service, risked losing a contract to make windbreakers for the U.S. Air Force. 
The main competitor was Unicor, a government-run enterprise that employs 13,000 inmates at wages as low as 23 cents an hour.
For decades, small U.S. factories have battled for business with government-run operations that outsource labor to Americans behind bars
And the tension is only growing as job creation and the role of government take center stage in Washington."
 Unicor Under Fire For Dominating Small Competitors With Cheap Prison Labor
Chinese slave labour.
"Julie Keith was unpacking some of last year's Halloween decorations when she stumbled upon an upsetting letter wedged into the packaging. 
Tucked in between two novelty headstones that she had purchased at Kmart, she found what appeared to be a letter from the Chinese laborer
who had made the decoration, pleading for help."


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Hmm. Fortunately, I don't own anything IKEA. And won't, ever.

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

This is the link to Strieber's site that you sent me Trish.
Thanks,I didn't realize how harsh the conditions were for them until I read that article.

Mike Perry said...

I've never even been into an IKEA store and, like Trish, I never will. Horrific.