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Ukraine VS Russia: Unilever to permit its 3,000 Russian workers to be conscripted

Ukraine VS Russia: Unilever to permit its 3,000 Russian workers to be conscripted

Ukraine VS Russia: Unilever to permit its 3,000 Russian workers to be conscripted

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The Russian Army

Unilever will allow its thousands of Russian workers to be conscripted into the Ukraine war as the row deepens over its decision to keep selling in the country.

The food giant, which prides itself on its “social purpose”, confirmed it was aware of the Russian law “requiring any company operating in Russia to permit the conscription of employees should they be called”, in a letter to campaign group B4Ukraine.

Reginaldo Ecclissato, Unilever’s chief business operations and supply chain officer, added: “We always comply with all the laws of the countries we operate in.”

It will fuel criticism over Unilever’s decision to keep selling food and hygiene products in Russia, while rivals have exited in response to the war in Ukraine.

The company, which owns Marmite and Dove soap said last year it would review its operations in Russia but is still selling what it deems is “everyday essential food” in the country, including ice cream.

Unilever was named as a sponsor of war by the Ukrainian government, after continuing to pay taxes in Russia.

Executives from the company have argued, “exiting is not straightforward”.

In the letter, issued in response to questions submitted by B4Ukraine, a coalition of more than 80 nonprofits who are urging multinationals to leave Russia, Mr Ecclissato said none of the options it had was “desirable”.

He said there was a risk that by selling the business, the Russian state could potentially “gain further benefit”.

If it closed the business down, Unilever said its business and brands in the country would be “appropriated – and then operated – by the Russian state”.

Mr Ecclissato wrote: “The third option is to allow the business to run with those strict constraints that we put in place last March… We believe the third remains the best option, both to avoid the risk of our business ending up in the hands of the Russian state, either directly or indirectly and to help protect our people. We will of course continue to keep this position under close review.”

It is understood that if Unilever employees were to be conscripted by the Russian army, their employment contracts would be suspended and wages would not be paid.

Earlier this month, Unilever was named as a sponsor of war by the Ukrainian government, after continuing to pay taxes in Russia, totalling RUB 3.8bn (£33m) last year.

The accusations were made by the Ukraine Solidarity Project, a group of veterans and international activists, who installed a billboard outside of Unilever’s London headquarters which depicted images of Ukrainian soldiers in the style of the company’s Dove adverts.

Valeriia Voshchevska, of the Ukraine Solidarity Project, described Unilever’s stance as “jaw-dropping”.

She said: “When people see Unilever products in the shops – like Hellman’s Mayonnaise, Marmite, Magnum and Dove – they now know that this company is prepared to conscript thousands of its workers for Russia’s war effort. It’s hard to get your head around.

“Unilever’s out of excuses. It needs to do the right thing and stop doing business in Russia now.”

 

 

Telegraph

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