Toys R Us Reaches Agreement with Union After Months of Strikes
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Toys R Us Inc. reached an agreement Wednesday with a Swedish union, paving the way for an end to three months of strikes and boycotts against the company in Sweden.
Union officials said they would end the strike and boycotts after Toys R Us management approves the deal. A decision was expected by Aug. 11.
The conflict was sparked by Toys R Us’ refusal to sign a collective labor agreement with the sales clerk union, Handelsanstalldas forbund.
Wednesday’s deal will allow the toy retailer to sign the collective agreement with certain exemptions, including expanded rights to negotiate directly with staff on issues such as overtime and trial period employment.
Companies in Sweden generally sign agreements with central unions guaranteeing workers’ rights. The nation’s powerful unions saw Toys R Us’ refusal to sign on as a provocation.
Toys R Us maintained it ensures employee rights without union involvement. The company also said it wants freer rein to hire and fire workers.
But the company’s stance softened after consumers and Swedish transport workers boycotted its Swedish stores and an international federation of unions asked its members in 70 countries to boycott Toys R Us. The company has more than 900 stores in 60 countries.
``We are surprised by the negative publicity we got,″ said Richard Cudrin, a senior official at Toys R Us headquarters in Paramus, N.J.