Swedish furniture giant IKEA had some experts take a peek at its own history and what it came up with was a bit of a woeful result. After the study by accounts Ernst & Young was complete, IKEA said it “deeply regrets” the fact that the company used political prisoners in communist East Germany as forced labor.
The accounts looked back into the company’s history dating to the 1970s, and found that there were political and criminal prisoners involved in the manufacturing process at IKEA, reports the BBC.
It wasn’t any sneaky operation, either — reps for the company knew that it was a possibility they had prisoners making their furniture. It happened after IKEA handed contracts to the East German government in the 1970s.
This all started coming to light back in May when former political prisoners who were part of the Stasi, a group of secret police, said they’d been involved in making furniture at IKEA. They could now get paid, finally.
“We deeply regret that this could happen. Using political prisoners in production has never been accepted within the IKEA Group,” said Jeanette Skjelmose, IKEA’s sustainability manager.
IKEA said it tried not to use prisoners, but the steps it took to discourage that clearly didn’t work. The spokesman added that it has codes of conduct now for its suppliers and that something similar won’t happen again.
While it’s definitely a serious issue to have to deal with, even 20 years later, at least IKEA isn’t trying to sweep the problem further under the rug. It’s to be hoped that the former prisoners will receive some sort of recompense and/or recognition of the work they did for the company while incarcerated.
Ikea ‘deeply regrets’ use of forced labour [BBC News]