Workers and their unions are seeking to maintain jobs at Unilever’s Ingman ice cream factory in Sipoo, Finland following plans announced by the company to relocate production in Sipoo to other Unilever sites. Some 64 workers are employed at the Sipoo factory, many of who are members of IUF-affiliate, Suomen Elintarviketyöläisten Liitto (SEL). Others are members of various white-collar unions, which also have membership at the site. Workers are concerned not only about their future, but about the Ingman brand, which has a long and rich history in Finland; they want to see production of this traditional Finnish ice cream brand maintained in Sipoo.
- SEL, IUF, and Unilever European Works Council (EWC) representatives, who support workers’ efforts to maintain jobs and production in Sipoo, visited the Sipoo ice cream factory on February 2 – meeting with workers, including SEL members, and also Unilever management
- Unilever has an obligation under EU law to involve workers in decision-making on all matters that have a significant impact on the company’s operations; SEL union representatives continue discussions with Unilever management in an effort to find an alternative to the company’s plans to discontinue production in Sipoo
- Sipoo Unilever workers believe Unilever has not positioned the Ingman brand well and has focused too much on cost-cutting at the expense of needed investment, including better marketing of the brand to Finnish consumers
- Sipoo factory R&D has significant expertise in what the Finnish ice cream consumer wants, which unlike its Nordic counterparts, prefers a less sweet taste
Johanna Lundberg, SEL Chief Shop Steward at Unilever Sipoo stated, “In the negotiations, we have demanded from Unilever alternatives to closing the factory. Workers do not believe Unilever has done its best to develop and promote Ingman’s ice cream products in Finland…we want to find a solution to maintain production and jobs here in Sipoo.”