The Memorandum was signed by Unilever’s chief executive officer Paul Polman, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Valter Sanches and IUF general secretary Sue Longley in London on 31 October 2018.
IndustriALL and IUF, together with their affiliates, have held bi-annual meetings with Unilever management since 2010 as part of their dialogue with the company. During this process, two working groups were created on Sustainable Employment and Gender Equality. The signing of the Memorandum highlights the importance of the ongoing work achieved through these work groups.
The Memorandum formalizes the engagement process and establishes a permanent platform for “ensuring that throughout Unilever’s worldwide operations workers can freely exercise their internationally recognized rights and in particular their rights to union membership and collective bargaining without fear of retaliation, repression or any other form of discrimination.” In the Memorandum, “Unilever recognizes its obligation to act to ensure that these rights are similarly respected by enterprises and their subcontractors providing products, operations and/or services to Unilever.”
“After years of trust building and constructive engagement, institutionalizing this global dialogue is an important achievement”, said Valter Sanches.
“Together with our sister organization IUF and our affiliates with membership at Unilever’s chemical operations, we will continue with our best effort to ensure that fundamental rights are respected and working conditions improve.”
“We have been working successfully on these issues with Unilever for a number of years”, said Sue Longley,
“and we look forward to deepening our engagement. Now that the process has been formalized we need to continue working together to ensure that the principles set out in the Memorandum are firmly anchored regionally, nationally and locally throughout Unilever’s global operations.”
IndustriALL and IUF signed a joint commitment with Unilever in 2016 to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace after it was identified a universal problem, both at the workplace and in wider society.
Generating €53.7 billion in turnovers in 2017, Unilever directly employs 161,000 people. The company owns around 400 brands, 12 of which have sales of more than €1 billion a year.