Public mobilisation group Jhatkaa.org, ex-mercury workers association, and the Chennai Solidarity Group question Unilever CEO Paul Polman’s silence after a rap video went viral calling out his company’s mercury contamination of Kodaikanal. The organisations urged Polman and Hindustan Unilever CEO and Managing Director Sanjiv Mehta to initiate immediate action.
1 August, 2015. BANGALORE/CHENNAI
Within two days of being launched, ‘Kodaikanal Won’t’, a song written and performed by Chennai-born rapper Sofia Ashraf and directed by Rathindran R Prasad has gone viral. The video, produced as a collaborative, grassroots, community-based effort, has attracted over 3,00,000 views in its first 48 hours. The accompanying petition has also surged to over 12,000 signers in the last 24 hours.
The song has been retweeted by Nicki Minaj, the artist whose ‘Anaconda’ is the song that Ashraf’s rap is set to. The peppy and searing rap performance is reaching the world with tweets from Nandita Das, Varun Grover, and Vishal Dadlani; and is trending on Facebook India, Twitter India, and Reddit globally.
Jhatkaa.org campaigner Sonam Mittal says, “The way that we win this campaign is through mass engagement. Unilever is a consumer brand that depends on the trust of the Indian public to meet its bottomline. If enough of us sign on, and hold Unilever accountable, the company will have no choice but to meet the ex-workers’ demands. That’s why we invite all Indians to get involved in this campaign.”
To join the campaign, visit https://www.jhatkaa.org/unilever/ or leave a missed call on 8880109020.
Polman is usually extremely active on the social media microblogging platform Twitter, and often tweets about the importance of “business as a force for good.” However, he is yet to respond to any of the hundreds of tweets that are questioning Unilever’s actions in Kodaikanal.
Unilever’s Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, too has yet to respond to the issue. CEO and Managing Director Sanjiv Mehta, who is also a member of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of the company, is duty bound to address the welfare of his ex-employees and must react proactively.
Social activist Nityanand Jayaraman says, “Unilever’s misdeeds in Kodaikanal are no longer secret. Mr. Polman must remain true to the assurance he gave his shareholders that the company is keen to settle with the workers expeditiously.”
For more information, contact:
Sonam Mittal, Jhatkaa.org: 9686199116
Deepa Gupta, Jhatkaa.org: 888410654
S.A. Mahindra Babu, Pond’s HLL ex-Mercury Employees Welfare Association: 9488922258
Shweta Narayan, The Other Media: 8056024315
*So far this video has been featured on The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The New Indian Express, FirstPost, the Newsminute, IBNLive, BuzzFeed, ScoopWhoop, VH1, Bitch Media, and many other Indian and international publications.