Unilever staff need job assurances after Kraft bid

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever staff need job assurances after Kraft Heinz's failed merger bid (Flickr/David Martyn Hunt)
Unilever staff need job assurances after Kraft Heinz's failed merger bid (Flickr/David Martyn Hunt)

Related tags: Unilever, Employment

Unilever must reassure workers about their job security, urges the GMB union, after the manufacturer revealed it was reviewing its operations following the failed £115bn Kraft Heinz bid.

The union said its members at Unilever had “a lucky escape”​, after Kraft Heinz’s mega merger bid failed last month. The bid – driven by private equity investor 3G Capital – would have ended in severe cost-cutting at Unilever, GMB claimed.

But, the union worried that the manufacturer might adopt 3G Capital’s alleged cost-cutting schemes to drive further profit.

‘Slash and burn tactics’

GMB national officer Eamon O’Hearn said: “The danger may not be over for our members.

“Unilever has a proud history, and many progressive employment practices. However, GMB is concerned that its statement sounds like the botched takeover has scared them into adopting 3G’s slash and burn tactics.”

GMB’s concerns followed Unilever’s statement last week (February 22) that the merger bid had made it aware of the company’s value. It was conducting a company-wide review to find ways to improve its operations.

A Unilever spokesperson said last week: “Unilever is conducting a comprehensive review of options available to accelerate delivery of value for the benefit of our shareholders.

“The events of the last week have highlighted the need to capture more quickly the value we see in Unilever. We expect the review to be completed by early April, after which we will communicate further.”

Fallout for workers

The union requested a Unilever briefing at the next Trade Union forum to explain what the options were, and whether there would be any fallout for workers.

O’Hearn said: “We're expecting Unilever to be transparent about their plans and provide reassurances to our members about their commitment to quality UK jobs.”

Meanwhile, Kraft Heinz abandoned its pursuit of Unilever​ on February 19.

What the union said about the failed merger

“GMB members working for Unilever had a lucky escape when the Kraft/Heinz takeover failed.

“But the danger may not be over for our members. Unilever has a proud history, and many progressive employment practices. However, GMB is concerned that its statement sounds like the botched takeover has scared them into adopting 3G’s slash and burn tactics.

“We're expecting Unilever to be transparent about their plans and provide reassurances to our members about their commitment to quality UK jobs.”

  • Eamon O’Hearn, GMB

Related topics: People & Skills

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