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Unions Launch International Campaign against Toys R Us

January 11, 1996

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Labor organizers from two dozen countries launched a campaign Wednesday to unionize thousands of workers at Toys R Us stores around the world.

Speaking at a two-day union conference, the organizers said their objective is to force the U.S.-based retailer to sign collective agreements with employees at hundreds of stores in some 60 countries.

The campaign is not about money, they said, adding that the company pays fair wages. Rather, it centers on the principle of worker’s rights.

``Everywhere, the company is hostile to unions and usually refuses to even talk with union officials,″ said a statement distributed to reporters.

International union President Jan Furstenborg said the new campaign would make a statement to other multinational companies that discourage union activity. The U.S. affiliate of FIET will join in the action, ``and they are of course a key player,″ he said.

The action is being overseen by the Geneva-based International Federation of Commercial, Technical and Clerical Employees, known as FIET, which claims some 12 million members in 70 countries.

The organizers have no immediate plans for strikes or boycotts.

Officials at Toys R Us headquarters in Paramus, N.J., and London did not immediately return calls for comment.

The campaign comes in the wake of last year’s three-month Swedish strike and global FIET boycott against Toys R Us over its refusal to sign a collective agreement with the Swedish sales clerks’ union. The conflict ended in August when the company relented.

Kent Almeborn, an employee in Stockholm, said that prior to the signing, company officials would conduct unscheduled body checks of employees, apparently to see if anything had been stolen.

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