Unite slams Unilever ceo's 'executive greed'

By Dan Colombini

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever workers in the UK are teaming up with their colleagues from around the world in Rotterdam to protest over changes to their pensions
Unilever workers in the UK are teaming up with their colleagues from around the world in Rotterdam to protest over changes to their pensions

Related tags: Pension, Unilever

Workers at consumer goods giant Unilever are taking the row over changes to their pensions overseas after Unite the Union accused ceo Paul Polman of “executive greed” and double standards.

Unilever staff will join forces with their European colleagues from other unions on Thursday, February 16, to protest outside the firm’s headquarters in Rotterdam after Unite hit out at Polman for receiving a “massive payout​” between 2010 and 2011.

Unite claim that Polman received a pay-out, including bonuses, of over £6.7M (€8M) for the period, including generous contributions to his pension, which has come at the expense of workers at the firm.

Employment and benefits

Jenny Formby, Unite’s national officer, said: “Paul Polman needs to practise what he preaches. He has pledged to double Unilever’s revenue over the next 10 years, promoting what he calls ‘sustainable living’. He should instead be focusing on long-term sustainable employment and benefits for his staff.

“Executive greed and compensation must be challenged. There was no need to slice the pension of Unilever’s hard-working staff. And workers shouldn’t be made to pay for Unilever’s future profits by sacrificing jobs or pay​.”

Formby also confirmed that its members would now be teaming up with Unilever staff from around the world to voice their anger on what they described as “attacks​” on many workers’ rights.

Unilever were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

The news comes less than a month after thousands of workers walked out over proposed changes to Unilever’s final salary pension scheme, which Unite claims will slash the retirement income of its staff by up to 40%.

The dispute intensified at the beginning of February after Unilever posted a strong performance in its latest set of financial results.

Unite described the firm’s profits as “mind-blowing​” and hit out at Polman for his earnings in comparison to the average employee at the firm.

Grotesque disparity

Speaking at the time, Formby told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Ceo Paul Polman takes home almost 300 times what the average Unilever worker earns. The firm can address this grotesque disparity, starting with honouring its promises to the workers and their pensions.”

However, earlier this month, the row seemed to be edging closer to reconciliation after Unilever agreed to enter into talks with the unions through the advisory, conciliation and arbitration service ACAS.

The unions confirmed that Unilever had agreed to the talks, which took place on February 9, but warned that it was still “early days​”. They also said the dispute would continue unless “proposals were put forward that were favourable to our members​”.

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1 comment

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Posted by Phil Roberts,

Paul Polman took over as ceo in late 2008 and announced that as he was freezing all salaries for the firm's management. It was only right that he did.
Does this mean that he has taken a pay freeze? With with a starting salary of £1.9M, I am sure I could survive without an increase for a few years.

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