Ikea regrets inability to prevent use of forced labour by suppliers

20 November 2012 (Last Updated November 20th, 2012 02:00)

Sweden-based furniture retailer Ikea has expressed regret for the purchase of inventory from suppliers who had employed political prisoners in East Germany two decades ago.

Sweden-based furniture retailer Ikea has expressed regret for the purchase of inventory from suppliers who had employed political prisoners in East Germany two decades ago.

Following allegations raised in a documentary about the use of forced prisoners, aired by a Swedish television, the furniture company has commissioned auditors Ernst & Young to probe into accusations in mid 2012.

The company rues its inability to control and monitor such events dating back to 25 – 30 years ago.

Commenting on the allegations, Ikea manager Jeanette Skjelmose said that the use of political prisoners for manufacturing was at no point accepted by the company.

"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," added Skjelmose.

During a press conference in Berlin, Union of Communist dictatorship victims associations (UOKG) chairman Rainer Wagner said that Ikea is one of the many beneficiaries of prison labour.

"Ikea has taken the lead on this, for which we are very grateful," added Wagner.

While talking about the support given to the victims, Ikea Germany head Peter Betzel said he is 100% certain that such things happened in East Germany have also happened elsewhere.