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Union Undaunted, Struggle Continues Against Unilever Bombay Closure

Posted to the IUF website 15-Apr-2007

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The Hindustan Lever Employees Union (HLEU), a member of the IUF-affiliated All India Council of Unilever Unions (AICUU) continues campaigning against the fraudulent sale and closure of the Hindustan Lever Mumbai (Bombay) factory.

In July 2005 Unilever's Indian subsidiary sold the factory to a phantom corporation called Bon Limited. Two months later Bon Limited made an application to the Government to close the factory and retrench over 900 members of HLEU. The sale of the Bombay factory was financed through a loan of USD2.17 million by Hindustan Lever to Bon Limited. The purchase price was 1.8 million. At the time of the purchase, Bon Limited had a capitalization of only USD 10,800! The dubious sale to a shell company without sufficient funds to meet payroll or operating expenses was the culmination of a long battle by HLL management to weaken or eliminate the union.

The union, however, has challenged the illegal closure through ongoing legal action in India, and together with the IUF, taken action at the OECD, whose guidelines on multinational enterprises Unilever has flagrantly violated. The union continues to rally its members and supporters, and has recently launched a series of rolling demonstrations at Mumbai rail stations, where they rally and distribute leaflets informing residents and travellers of the struggle.

Pictured here is a recent demonstration at the Nerul Railway Station. The protests move to other Mumbai rail stations in the weeks ahead.