Socialist Worker

Ikea furniture giant fined for spying on 400 of its workers

Issue No. 2760


Ikea store in Leeds (Pic: Wikipedia)

Did it happen in Britain? A French court has ordered Ikea to pay a fine of £860,000 after the furniture chain was found guilty of spying on staff.

Ikea France was accused of using private detectives and police officers to collect staff’s private data.

This included illegally accessing their records in order to vet applicants for jobs.

The illegal surveillance covered about 400 people,

Last week former head of risk Jean-François Paris was given an 18-month suspended sentence and a £8,000 fine.

AFP news agency reports he once wanted to know how an employee could afford a new BMW convertible, and asked why a staff member in Bordeaux had “suddenly become a protester”.

Former Ikea France CEO Jean-Louis Baillot was given a two-year suspended jail term and £40,000 fine.

His lawyer said Baillot was “shocked” by the ruling and was considering an appeal.

The 15 people in the dock at the Versailles court included top executives and former store managers.

Four police officers were also on trial for handing over confidential information.

The case centred on Ikea France’s surveillance of staff during 2009-2012. Store manager Patrick Soavi told the court how he had got personal data from a cousin in the police.

He asked police officer Alain Straboni to “cast an eye” over 49 candidates selected for Ikea jobs.

After a search on the police computer the reply was that three of them had committed minor offences.

Later Soavi sent another 68 names to be checked, and he was advised to drop five of the candidates.

“I recognise that I was very naïve and rather ­over‑­zealous, but we were being asked to carry out these checks, and once I’d put a foot inside this system it was too late,” he said.

Ikea’s annual bill for ­private investigators ran to nearly £500,000.

Millions of children breath poisoned air

Millions of British children attend schools where air pollution is worse than the World Health Organisation (WHO) limit.

An analysis found that more than a quarter of schools, from nurseries to sixth-form colleges, were in locations with high levels of small particle pollution.

This means an estimated 3.4 million children are learning in an unhealthy environment, said the charity Global Action Plan (Gap).

Tiny pollution particles, called PM2.5, are particularly dangerous as they not only harm the lungs but can pass into the bloodstream and affect many other parts of the body.

Developing bodies are especially vulnerable, and dirty air has already been linked to increased asthma, obesity and mental disorders in children.

“Schools should be safe places of learning, not places where students are at risk of health hazards,” said Dr Maria Neira, director at the World Health Organisation. “These figures are unequivocally too high and harming children’s health.

“There is no safe level of air pollution, and if we care about our children and their future, air pollution limits should reflect WHO guidelines.”

A second report by experts at the University of Manchester also highlighted the danger to children’s health from air pollution, which it said has recently been linked to increasing cognitive impairments, including ADHD.

The highest number of polluted schools identified in the analysis by Gap are in London and south east England.

But there are polluted schools across Britain with nearly 300 in Manchester postcodes M1 to M9 and in Portsmouth postcodes PO1 to PO9.

Boris Johnson has been stripped of his mobile phone by “officials”—reportedly over MI5 security concerns.

It emerged in April that the his personal mobile number had been available on the internet for the last 15 years. A contact number for the prime minister was listed on the bottom of a press release when he was still shadow higher education minister in 2006. That document was still available online in 2021.

Tories in no rush to have an election for sexist MP

When the Tory MP Rob Roberts was suspended from parliament for sexual misconduct, including propositioning a worker and telling them to be “less alluring”, most assumed his political career was over.

But as often with Westminster sexual harassers, however, things aren’t so simple.

The law says a by-election can only be triggered against an MP if they have been sanctioned by the Commons standards committee of MPs, as opposed to the independent panel.

Apparently Boris Johnson is content with the situation. It could be a tricky by-election with Roberts having only won his seat in Delyn, north Wales, by 865 votes.

Downing Street voices have suggested that the Commons leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg, shouldn’t rush to table a change to the rules.

Government stopped people getting sick pay

Tory ministers suppressed access to sick pay for people self-isolating with Covid-19 during a peak of the pandemic.

Leaked emails say the Treasury instructed senior government officials to conceal how a ­little‑known function of the furlough scheme could be used to access help.

Senior officials in January and February were instructed to conceal the provision as Covid-19 cases surged, along with the furlough scheme’s cost.

“Furlough can be used to cover self-isolation, but HMT (Her Majesty’s Treasury) are reluctant to say this explicitly in guidance because it could lead to employees being furloughed who do not need to be,” a senior civil servant complained.

The official admitted that the usual payments received while self-isolating were so small that people avoided testing in case they couldn’t go to work

“Incentive payments are too low to incentivise employees to take tests due to risk of loss of income,” the person said.

Stripped of the bureaucratic language, it means the government knew there was a way to help people hurled into poverty because they were ill.

‘If you had a map of Covid’s biggest effects now and a map of child deaths in 1850, they look remarkably similar. These are areas where deprivation has been prolonged and deeply entrenched’

Chris Whitty, government’s chief medical officer

‘1950s fishing trawler’

Naval architect Stephen Payne is not impressed by the proposed design of the new royal yacht

‘Well, honestly, it feels like ancient history’

Health secretary Matt Hancock is not hurt at all that Boris Johnson thinks he is “fucking useless”

‘There has been no barter, no trade deal’

Former House of Commons Speaker John Bercow denies he has joined the Labour Party to get a peerage

‘A roadmap’

Labour leader Keir Starmer has announced a policy review that will take around 18 months. It was his third announcement of a new direction for the party

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