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'Addressing Poverty' at Unilever Pakistan: the Politics of Retribution

Posted to the IUF website 31-Aug-2009

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Careers at Unilever: As one of the world's greatest consumer goods companies, we offer people with talent, passion and integrity some of the world's greatest careers."


Poverty and malnutrition "Are some of the big challenges facing the world and our business today. Find out more about how we are addressing these and other sustainability issues…"

"Sustainability" at www.unileverpakistan.com.pk

Turnover: 9,592 million
Underlying sales growth: 22%

Unilever Pakistan 2008 Social Report at http://www.unileverpakistan.com.pk/

Casual workers at Unilever's Lipton tea factory in Khanewal, Pakistan formed an Action Committee last year to challenge their disposable status and fight for their rights. As documented meticulously on this site, members have been denied work, demoted and pushed into even deeper poverty in an attempt to break their resistance.

Look beneath the surface - how does Unilever address the poverty of its own, increasingly disposable workforce? How are they contributing to socially sustainable employment?

Presumably because Unilever's other tea factory in Pakistan - a nameless enterprise on Unilever-owned land run by former Unilever managers with Unilever equipment, staffed by 100% casual workers - is unable to keep up with the surge in demand presented in the company's latest annual report, production has increased at the Unilever- owned and operated Khanewal plant. So management has been forced to call on the skills of its casual Khanewal workers, many of them trained in advanced quality control practices (but denied direct employment status).

So Action Committee members are working more hours - but management has been meticulous in seeing to it that workers demanding their rights are still denied the 26 days' work per month they need to qualify for the minimum wage. They're still being paid 252 Rupees per day - the equivalent of slightly over 3 US dollars.

In June and July this year, only one Action Committee member qualified for the monthly minimum wage by working 27 days. The politics of retribution still condemn the hundreds of Action Committee members to even deeper poverty and exclusion.


Tell corporate management to stop retaliating and start negotiating!. The Lipton Khanewal casual workers fighting for justice through their Action Committee must be given permanent, direct employment status.

Slaves built the pyramids - Unilever casual workers build pyramid tea!
Brands are at the heart of our business. It is through brands that we engage with and build relationships with our consumers and communities; and we can achieve social uplift and empowerment

Unilever Pakistan Social Report 2008