HUL & former employees of Kodaikanal factory sign settlement
Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) and Pond’s HLL ex-Mercury Employees Welfare Association, representing the ex-employees of the former thermometer factory in Kodaikanal, have today announced the signing of a settlement. The Memorandum of Settlement reached was recorded in an order passed by the Hon’ble Madras High Court. The settlement has been entered into on humanitarian considerations to put an end to this long standing matter pending in the Court for several years and also is in keeping with the suggestion of the Hon’ble Madras High Court.
Mr Dev Bajpai, Executive Director – Legal and Corporate Affairs, HUL said, “We have worked hard over many years to address this and find the right solution for our former workers. We, alongside all involved, are glad to see an outcome to this long-standing case. The wellbeing of our employees and the communities in which we operate has and will always remain paramount. This agreement demonstrates our commitment to this”.
HUL has been engaging with former workers’ representatives to reach an amicable agreement for several years now, on the advice of the Hon’ble Madras High Court. In the last two years, the company has had multiple meetings with the former workers’ representatives to resolve this issue in a mutually satisfactory manner.
S.A. Mahindra Babu, the president of the Pond’s HLL ex-Mercury Employees Welfare Association, said, "We welcome the actions taken by HUL to bring these negotiations to a satisfactory closure. We are pleased with all the terms of the agreement which will help to ensure the long-term health and well-being of the factory’s former workers. We now consider this issue to be fully resolved and have no more grievance against the Company in this regard."
This agreement was signed on March 4, 2016 in the presence of representatives of former workers and HUL. As part of the agreement, HUL, with an objective to ensure long term wellbeing of its former workers, has agreed to provide ex gratia payments to 591 former workers/association members and their families towards livelihood enhancement projects and skill enhancement programs.
The former employees have confirmed this as a full and final settlement of all their claims and demands. They will withdraw the petition they had filed in February 2006 in the Hon’ble Madras High Court.
The former workers of the thermometer factory had filed a petition in the Hon’ble Madras High Court in February 2006 seeking economic rehabilitation.
This petition was filed more than four years after HUL had made a full and final settlement in November 2001. The severance package was significantly higher than the statutory requirement.
The workers had been offered alternative jobs in another unit of the company. However, they opted out of service. Several expert studies have been conducted since the factory’s closure and all have concluded that our ex-employees were not harmed by working in the former thermometer factory in Kodaikanal. Nonetheless, since this issue first came to light HUL has actively sought to address it in a responsible manner.
The other key aspect on this matter relates to soil remediation within the factory site. HUL has submitted the Detailed Project Report (DPR) to Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) in August 2015 and is awaiting consent.
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