Unite has warned Unilever that poor treatment of its UK workers is damaging company business following a 69 pence fall in its share price. The union says the trading falls on both the London and Dutch stock exchange, where the company is listed, came a …

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Unite has warned Unilever that poor treatment of its UK workers is damaging company business following a 69 pence fall in its share price.

The union says the trading falls on both the London and Dutch stock exchange, where the company is listed, came as the dispute sharpens over plans to shelve the final salary pension scheme and replace it with a career-average one.

Stocks-watchers MarketWatch said the food and cleaning products giant suffered one of the biggest falls in the market yesterday.

As shares in Unilever – which produces Slim-Fast, Marmite, Bovril and a range of ice cream brands – fell by 3.3% in London, city brokers Morgan Stanley cut its valuation of the company from “overweight” to “equalweight”.

On Tuesday, scores of Unite members lobbied Unilever’s London HQ in protest at the “dirty” treatment of them by a company that produces some of the biggest selling cleaning products on the planet.  Last December, Unite, GMB and Usdaw called their first ever strike action inside Unilever.

Further action is scheduled for later this month.

Commenting on the share price drop, Unite national officer Jennie Formby (above, centre, on the Unite battlebus) said: “We take no pleasure in seeing the share price drop but this must surely ring alarm bells among shareholders.

“When a company opts to pay its CEO 285 times more than its average worker, and his pay jumps by almost 50 percent in one year, then this is a company that is not short of money but it is fond of hoarding it in the boardroom.

“The public debate now is about how corporates and capitalism must behave more responsibly.  Closing a viable pension scheme and replacing it with one that will slash people’s retirement savings by between 20 and 40 per cent is far from responsible, particularly when the company admits this will not save money.

Unilever says “It is currently not clear how the dispute with the trade unions will be resolved.” It has rejected requests from Unite, GMB and Usdaw to meet at the conciliation service, ACAS.

The company said it was concerned about the “disproportionate” action the trade unions were taking, adding: “This was a tough but necessary choice which reflects the realities of rising life expectancy and increased market volatility.”

Watch our video report of Tuesday’s protest here:


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