To Unilever Global CEO, Paul Polman
UPDATE: Polman's response
Jhatkaa member confronted Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman at the Paris Climate Conference and questioned him about his company’s actions in Kodaikanal. And this is what he had to say:
“That [Kodaikanal] was 15 years ago, and well, there was no pollution. We have developed Kodaikanal and given people there a better life.”
This is appalling. 15 years ago, Hindustan Unilever dumped toxic mercury waste in Kodaikanal. The company’s ex-workers were made to handle mercury, which is extremely dangerous, without protective gear. Hundreds of them continue to suffer serious health problems to this day, and have not received any compensation from Unilever.
Losing family members, living in perpetual illness and not being able to afford hospital bills, and living with toxic pollution … is this Paul Polman’s idea of a “better life”?
Join the campaign to demand Unilever clean up their mercury mess in Kodaikanal and compensate ex-workers.
UPDATE: Powerful new video
Esther Rani, the mother of the young man who worked for Unilever, tells us this truth. In her powerful new video testimony, she talks about the devastating effect working at Unilever's mercury thermometer factory had on her son and her entire family:
Esther and her family were exposed to mercury poisoning, along with hundreds of others at Unilever's Kodaikanal thermometer assembly plant. The factory operators did not give its workers any protective equipment or information about the disastrous impact that mercury has on health.
The factory owned by Hindustan Unilever also dumped toxic mercury around their plant, and this has not been cleaned up in the 14 years since this plant was shut down. The contamination continues to impact forests and groundwater.
The workers cannot afford private healthcare. They have been fighting for Unilever to clean up the toxic contamination and compensate them for their medical expenses as a result of mercury for many long years. They need us to stand with them now, more than ever.
Paul Polman, Unilever’s CEO, prides himself in heading a company that he says is accountable to its workers, and to the environment.
Let’s ask him to put his words into practice by asking him to clean up his company’s toxic mess and to compensate the workers who have lost their health and in some cases, their children, to Unilever’s unethical practices. As the global CEO, he has the power and resources to either take unilateral action or pressure Hindustan Unilever - a Unilever subsidy - to take immediate action itself. Sign the petition.
Viral video "Kodaikanal Won't"
Press statement on the viral video "Kodaikanal Won't" here.