Kodaikanal: Unilever relents and agrees to clean up its mess

9 March 2016 — 38 Degrees

Unilever, a huge global corporation that makes billions of pounds in profit, have just buckled under the pressure of ordinary people. [1] That’s right: you and thousands of others have forced this corporate giant – the owner of PG Tips, Marmite, Dove and more – to clean up their mess.

Cast your mind back to August last year. Unilever were coming under pressure from local residents, ex-workers and campaigners in India to pay up to help the victims of a massive mercury leak they caused in the Indian town of Kodaikanal. [2] Without proper compensation, families were struggling to rebuild their lives.

So we, thousands of their customers in the UK, got involved. We’re the people who buy their products – from a mug of PG Tips tea, to Marmite on toast, to Dove soap, Unilever own some of the most popular brands in the country. [3]

Thousands of us wrote comments on the Facebook pages of Unilever brands – and called them, tweeted them, and emailed them too. [4] Our people power cut through their million-pound advertising campaigns designed to make them look good. Instead, we painted the true picture of a huge company who doesn’t care about the people behind the products.

Then we took our demands straight to Unilever bosses. 40,000 of us wrote messages that were hand delivered to their HQ. [5] You said “Do the right thing and pay up! At least attempt to help the lives that your corporation has destroyed in its sociopathic quest for money. Show us just how civilised you really are.”

It’s taken years for the victims and families to get the justice they deserve, and it’s taken months of people-powered pressure to get Unilever to budge. But when something’s important, you don’t give up. Victories like this take time.

So thank you, William, for playing a part in this. Corporations don’t get much bigger than Unilever, so this victory is proof that people power can take on businesses and politicians alike. Together, we’re a movement of people who stand up for justice – whether that’s here in the UK or further from home.

If you’d like to share the good news with your friends on Facebook, click the image below:

 Unilever image

Thanks for being involved,

Amy, Laura, Carlton, David and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] The New Indian Express: 15 Years Later, Unilever Pays Workers Affected by Mercury Poisoning in Kodaikanal:
http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/15-Years-Later-Unilever-Pays-Workers-Affected-by-Mercury-Poisoning-in-Kodaikanal/2016/03/09/article3318269.ece
Kodai Mercury: Victory – Hindustan Unilever settles with 591 Kodaikanal workers:
http://kodaimercury.org/victory-hindustan-unilever-settles-with-591-kodaikanal-workers/
[2] Jhatkaa is a campaigning organisation in India, which is a bit like 38 Degrees. They bring people together across India to take action on the issues that they all decide are important, such as justice for the families affected by the mercury oil spill. Jhatkaa: Unilever – take responsibility for Kodaikanal mercury poisoning:
https://www.jhatkaa.org/unilever/
[3] Unilever: View our brands:
https://www.unilever.co.uk/brands/
[4] 38 Degrees blog: Unilever: Clean up your mess:
https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2015/08/06/unilever-clean-up-your-mess/
[5] 38 Degrees: Unilever meeting – update:
https://home.38degrees.org.uk/2015/08/17/unilever-meeting-update/