On June 20, in Washingon D.C., Per-Olof Sjoo, Deputy Vice President of the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and President of the Swedish trade union, GS received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award for his efforts on behalf of IKEA’s workers in Danville Virginia, United States. The award is bestowed by an independent NGO, American Rights At Work and recognizes those who advance human rights for workers.
Per-Olof is the first non US citizen to receive this award from Americans Rights At Work. He shares the award with Bill Street from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) who is also a BWI World Council member representing North America.
“There were many who said that the global campaign against IKEA’s exaggerated the situation in Danville,” according to BWI General Secretary, Ambet Yuson. “This recognition from an independent NGO in the United States confirms what we at BWI, GS, and the IAMAW already knew, that workers’ rights are human rights and that Swedwood was violating the human rights of their workers in Danville. Likewise, I am pleased to report that BWI and IKEA continue to engage in social dialogue in the hope that we can avoid such campaigns in the future by rectifying all such human right violations throughout IKEA’s entire supply chain”
Per-Olof stated “The real winners of this award are the workers in Danville, who have made tremendous progress and who still have other issues to address. I am of course humbled by being recognized this way and hope it helps ensure that workers’ rights everywhere are understood to be basic human rights.”
“Per and BWI were steadfast allies in this struggle and the IAM could not have succeeded in this struggle without them,” stated Bill Street, Chief of Staff of the Woodworkers Department of the Machinists. He continued, “Both BWI General Secretary Yuson and GS President Sjoo demonstrated strong leadership and great political courage. They clearly understand the meaning of the word ‘solidarity’ and that an injury to one is an injury to all. Since the collective agreement has been in effect substantial progress has been made in Danville. The job is not yet done but the situation is much better today than it was last June. Dignity on the job continues to improve and workers are no longer scared of being fired for no reason.”
American Rights At Work is s an independent NGO dedicated to promoting human rights through advocacy and recognition of activities that promote free choice, freedom of association, and the right to bargain. They have issued the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award for 8 years. The Award honors the human rights work done by Eleanor Roosevelt throughout her life.