Target: Paul Polman, Unilever CEO
Goal: Compensate ex-workers who were exposed to mercury pollution and cannot access private healthcare.
Several workers were exposed to mercury poisoning because a factory did not give these employees protective equipment and also failed to provide information to the employees about the effects of mercury on their health. This happened 10 years ago, but the company who owns the factory has refused to compensate them for their resulting health problems.
A few years ago, residents of Kodaikanal, India, discovered a dumpsite with toxic mercury waste. The mercury waste was alleged to have emanated from a thermometer factory run by Unilever’s Indian subsidiary. The company, Hindustan Lever, also dumped waste containing mercury in the surrounding forests. These findings marked the beginning of a protest that has taken more than ten years even though the company in question closed its operations.
The mercury emissions contaminated a large area of Kodaikanal and its surrounding areas. The primary cause of the contamination was reported to be caused by dispersal of elemental mercury to the atmosphere and dispersal to water.
Before the company closed, it did not clean up the mercury it had dumped around its plant, and the contamination has continued to affect the forests and groundwater. The workers have been fighting Unilever to clean up the pollution and compensate them for several years. Worse, these people cannot afford private healthcare and need the support.
A local artist, Sofia Ashraf, went ahead and released the “Kodaikanal Won’t” video demanding that Unilever “clean up the mess.” The video describes the entire incident briefly and has brought the issue of corporate responsibility into the limelight, though Unilever has not responded. Sofia’s work has gained more supporters and has reminded the world about the wrongdoings of Unilever to its ex-workers.
For more than ten years, Unilever had done nothing to clean up the contamination or compensate its workers and their families. Demand that the company make amends for their wrongdoings.
Dear Paul Polman,
A few years ago, Kodaikanal residents in India discovered a dumpsite that was alleged to belong to Unilever’s subsidiary, Hindustan Lever. The company dumped mercury around Kodaikanal and contaminated the city and its surrounding areas.
Several workers were exposed to mercury poisoning because the company failed to give them protective equipment and information on the effects of mercury on their health. Though the company closed, it failed to clean up the mercury it had dumped, and the contamination has continued to affect the forests and groundwater in Kodaikanal.
For more than 10 years, the ex-workers have been fighting Unilever to clean up the contamination and compensate them. For all those years, Unilever has done nothing. These actions have led to the release of a video condemning the actions of Unilever and demanding compensation for the workers. The video by Sofia Ashraf is demanding that Unilever “clean up the mess” and has brought the issue of corporate responsibility into the limelight. Worse, your company has not responded. I believe it is time Unilever cleans up the mess and makes necessary compensations. Please take action towards this worthy cause.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Joe Nehls