Make Unilever Clean Up Mercury Pollution & Compensate Workers
Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan professes three major goals — promoting health and well-being, sustainable sourcing of raw materials and reducing its environmental footprint. As important as it is to know what Unilever is doing to achieve these goals, it is critical to know what Unilever is not doing that is detracting from these goals.
In Kodaikanal, India, Hindustan Unilever operated a second-hand mercury thermometer factory it inherited from Chesebrough Pond’s for 18 years. The factory was located adjacent to a dense and biodiverse protected forest that is part of a prominent watershed. In 2001, the factory was shut down for violating environmental laws when it was found to have dumped toxic mercury wastes in nearby forests, within its factory premises and in a scrapyard in a crowded part of town.
A recent Government of India report found that the factory’s negligence extended even to occupational hygiene and work safety practices. The report found these to be inadequate and concluded that workers and their families had been affected due to mercury exposure of workers in the shop-floor.
In the more than a decade since the factory shut down, precious little has been done to clean up the contaminated environment to standards that would be protective of the dense and bio-diverse forests in the vicinity. Neither has Unilever taken steps to address the health concerns of its ex-workers, many of whom are too sick to work for a living. Unilever’s inaction in Kodaikanal stands in stark contrast to its claims of sustainability, responsibility and care extending to its workers and communities.
We request you to take action to highlight Unilever’s irresponsibility in Kodaikanal and other places in support of the demands of ex-workers and residents to a) clean up the mercury contamination on and offsite; b) compensate workers and provide for their long-term medical rehabilitation.
You can do this by:
You can do this by:
• Distribute pamphlets outside Ben&Jerry’s ice cream shops to
remind the company that “It’s not so cool” after all. Take a selfie with a placard that says:
#CleanUpKodi, #CompensateWorkers and Post it on your Facebook tagging #BrightFuture.
- In Netherlands/UK/USA: Distribute pamphlets outside Ben&Jerry’s ice cream shops (Verkooplocaties)
to remind the company that “It’s not so cool” after all. Take a selfie with a placard that says:
and Post it on your Facebook tagging #BrightFuture.
- In India: Distribute pamphlets outside supermarkets with placards saying
- Attend Unilever AGM. Raise questions. Distribute pamphlets to educate shareholders. AGM in UK on 30 April, in Rotterdam on 29 April, 2015.
- Write to Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever Plc, urging him to walk the talk on environmental responsibility and sustainability in Kodaikanal. Unilever’s contact address:
Unilever Plc, 100VE, 100 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0DY. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A draft sample letter can be found at: http://kodaimercury.org/letter-to-paul-polman/
Members of Ponds Hindustan Lever Ltd
Ex-Mercury Employees Welfare Union &
Residents of Kodaikanal