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Ikea snooped on union activists, says former French security boss

media The Ikea superstore in Bordeaux Reuters

The former head of security of Ikea in France has accused his bosses of telling him to hire detectives to spy on its employees. In April the Swedish furniture retailer admitted that practices “contrary to its ethics” had taken place in its French business.

Ikea fired Jean-François Paris and several other senior managers after a trade union took the company to court and several media published emails revealing that private detectives had been commissioned to provide reports on potential employees’ criminal records.

Some of the messages seemed to indicate that investigators would have access to national police records.

In Monday’s Le Monde newspaper Paris says that in the mid-2000s top management ordered investigations into whether job applicants had been involved with unions or proved to be assertive in their dealing with former employers.

And he claims that spies were placed in certain shops to snoop on supposed trouble-makers and look into employees’ “reputations”.

Paris names Ikea France’s former top boss, Jean-Louis Baillot, as personally pushing the idea.

“He asked me to make sure that those sort of people weren’t recruited any more,” he told the daily. “I explained that it was pointless but he insisted. ‘There has to be screening,’ he said.”

Paris claims that Ikea’s financial department was behind the plan and that it was known to all top management.

Ikea subsidiaries carry out similar inquires in several other countries, according to Paris.

Baillot told Le Monde that the accusations are “grotesque”.

“It would have been no use screening all employees at that stage,” he said. “They’d already been hired.”

Current Ikea France management refused to comment because a legal case is still going through the courts.

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