Unilever to let its 3000 Russian employees be conscripted
Unilever has confirmed it will allow its 3,000 Russian employees to be conscripted and potentially sent to Ukraine if required by law.
Despite facing pressure to withdraw from Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine, it said the situation is not straightforward, citing responsibilities toward its workers’ safety and well-being.
In a letter to the campaign group B4Ukraine, Unilever said it “absolutely condemns the war in Ukraine as a brutal, senseless act by the Russian state”.
The group advocates for companies to cease operations in Russia to impact its economy.
While the company said the law required businesses operating in Russia to allow employee conscription, it emphasized compliance with all local laws.
Unilever’s chief business operations and supply chain officer, Reginaldo Ecclissato, said: “We always comply with all the laws of the countries we operate in.”
The decision has raised eyebrows and criticism from campaigners.
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The Ukraine Solidarity Project, a part of B4Ukraine, said the firm’s response was “jaw-dropping”.
A spokesperson said: “One day you’re manufacturing ice cream, the next you’re gearing up for the front line. You can’t say Unilever isn’t offering its employees varied work experience.
“If this is protecting your workers, I’d hate to see what putting them in harm’s way looks like.”
Unilever’s operations in Russia primarily focus on personal care and hygiene products, with ice cream continuing to be supplied.
It has around 3000 employees in the country.