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General view of IKEA's first city centre store in Hamburg June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

(reuters_tickers)

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch and Belgian truck drivers on Thursday protested the loss of jobs at contractors serving Ikea, the world's largest furniture chain, accusing the Swedish company of exploiting cheaper workers from Eastern Europe.

Dozens of unemployed drivers handed out flyers at Ikea stores in the Benelux countries, said Edwin Atema, a spokesman for Dutch union FNV. About 25,000 drivers have lost their jobs in recent years in Belgium and the Netherlands, Atema said. He could not say how many of the losses were connected with Ikea.

Ikea said in a statement to Reuters it did not hire workers based on nationality. The company said it had met with the unions last month and explained "that the people who transport our products work under fair and good conditions."

Ikea said on Thursday it would again look into the concerns of the unions.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Mia Shanley in Stockholm; Editing by Larry King)

Reuters