What are the next steps in the #BoycottIKEA action?

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Photo: flickr/Håkan Dahlström

Please help rabble.ca stop Harper's democratic demolition. Become a monthly supporter.

Three modest but successful info pickets marked the first coordinated action by labour activists against the IKEA, the multinational corporation that has locked out over 300 IKEA Richmond workers in British Columbia for more than 13 months.

At IKEA Ottawa, over 20 people gathered at noon and managed to hold their picket right at the entrance to the massive big box store. Ignoring requests to move from some staff, handing out dozens of flyers to customers, the info pickets managed to turn away some customers. Members from CUPE, PSAC and community activists were present. The local action came together through the local labour-community group Solidarity Against AusterityTake Back the CLC activists and Facebook organizing.

Eighteen people set up info pickets at IKEA Etobicoke in suburban Toronto. The picketers were kicked off the property almost instantly but set up a picket at the entrance to the driveway. This caused traffic delays by holding up cars at an intersection. Members of OPSEU, Unifor and CUPE were on the line.

At IKEA Burlington, five picketers also handed out flyers to passing motorists. The action was endorsed by the Hamilton & District Labour Council, the only action to get formal labour support. Members of CUPE and SEIU were there.

The June 21 pickets were called less than two weeks after Take Back the CLC called for the actions. Only a couple days before the actions, 140 IKEA Richmond workers sent out a petition to CLC President Hassan Yussuff, Teamsters Canada and a number of labour councils calling for coordinated weekly pickets at the twelve IKEA stores in Canada and a country-wide boycott.

Building the next action

The actions were a great first step and Toronto and Ottawa activists showed they could get decent numbers on very short notice. The smaller action in Burlington, also organized with short notice, shows you can win formal labour support. This is a first step towards winning support from other unions.

The next action ought to be July 5, giving us two weeks to prepare. It would also be foolish to risk a flop on the Canada Day weekend on short notice.

Organizing the action means calling through your contacts by phone, sending out a couple email blasts and making a Facebook event page. Introduce boycott and info picket motions at your local union meeting or labour council. When the action takes place, someone has to be assigned to walk around with a sign up sheet and take down everyone's names, phone numbers, emails and their unions or community groups.

This is necessary to build a list of contacts that can be called and emailed before each action. Make sure you put a call out for union flags, a megaphone and materials to make signs beforehand. While at the info picket, make full use of social media by tweeting updates and photos using the hashtag #boycottIKEA.

IKEA will be prepared for the next round of actions and it will be unlikely to get a picket at the front entrance, like was done in Ottawa. Be sure to scout out your local IKEA in advance. Locate the intersections, crosswalks and parking lot entrances where you can legally hold up traffic and/or hand out flyers.

The goal isn't to cause a scene with security or police. The goal also isn't to piss off customers, but it's going to happen anyway. Their Saturday shopping is of no importance, especially when you compare it to the lives of the 300 locked out workers at IKEA Richmond.

The goals of the info pickets are four-fold:

  1. to show solidarity with the locked out workers
  2. to let the company know that this lockout will face increasing opposition across the country
  3. to create the conditions for the broader labour movement to adopt this campaign
  4. and to forge links between activists locally and from across the country through coordinated action

DOWNLOAD model resolution for your union local/labour council

This piece originally appeared on rankandfile.ca and is reprinted with permission.

Doug Nesbitt is former Co-Chief Steward and President of PSAC local 901. He is an organizer with SEIU Local 2. He is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Queen’s University, and is writing a history of the Ontario Days of Action from 1995 to 1998. Doug remains loyal to the Leafs despite the endless disappointments.

Photo: flickr/Håkan Dahlström

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.