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IKEA Accused of Using Cuban Prisoners to Build Furniture

Documents uncovered in East Germany show that IKEA struck a deal for furniture to be made in Cuban prisons.


IKEA may have used Cuban prisoners to build its furniture in the 1980s. German newspaper The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that it has seen East German files about a deal IKEA struck with Cuban prisons.

The deal was allegedly struck in September 1987, with a contract stating that East Berlin-based “IKEA Trading Berlin" commissioned 4,000 suites, 10,000 tables for children and 35,000 dining tables, all to be made by the prisoners, The Local reported. But the deal fell through in 1988 because of quality defects, according to FAZ.

IKEA now says it is investigating the allegations. “We take this matter extremely seriously,” IKEA spokeswoman Jeanette Skjelmose told The Local.

The new allegations come just a day after a Swedish television station made other allegations about IKEA's labor. The station claimed that forced East German prison labor was used at IKEA production plants in the 1970s, the Daily Telegraph reported. In response to those allegations, IKEA has requested to see Stasi secret police files.

IKEA has had contracts with communist countries such as Poland and East Germany dating back to the 1960s, The Guardian reported.

And a book published last year claims that the company's original founder was a member of the Swedish Nazi Party, according to the Telegraph.