Sydney: Swedish furniture giant Ikea has expressed regret after admitting that it benefited from the use of ‘forced prison labour’ by some of its suppliers in communist East Germany more than two decades ago.
The firm released an independent report showing that East German prisoners, including many political dissidents, who were involved in the manufacture of goods that were supplied to Ikea 25 to 30 years ago.
The report concluded that Ikea managers were aware of the possibility that prisoners would be used in the manufacture of its products and took some measures to prevent this, but they were insufficient.
"We deeply regret that this could happen. The use of political prisoners for manufacturing was at no point accepted by IKEA,” News.com.au quoted Jeanette Skjelmose, an Ikea manager, as saying.
“At the time we didn''t have the well-developed control system that we have today and we clearly did too little to prevent such production methods,” she added.
According to the report, Rainer Wagner, chairman of the victims'' group UOKG, said Ikea was just one of many companies that benefited from the use of forced prison labour in East Germany from the 1960s to 1980s.
"Ikea is only the tip of the iceberg," he said.
Wagner said he hoped that Ikea and others would consider compensating former prisoners, many of whom carry psychological and physical scars from arduous labour they were forced to do, the report said.
"Ikea has taken the lead on this, for which we are very grateful," he added.
First Published: Saturday, November 17, 2012, 11:19