Published: 28/03/2013

Striking Unilever workers seeking just compensation for their transfer to Sodexo made a dramatic appearance at the FNV Bondgenoten Congress in the Hague on March 21, calling on the company to meet their demands.

Union members are now in their fifth week of industrial action and have been on continuous strike since March 14.

One of the strikers, Tiny van Haren, told the IUF “I’ve been employed by Unilever in Oss for 46 years. I feel that it’s a bad deal to now have to experience this transfer to a company like Sodexo.”

Another striker, John Voorzaat, said “I’ve been working for Unilever at Nassaukade for 27 years, but because of the outsourcing to Sodoxo I’m losing a big part of my future pension, and after 6 years I will have also have to pay a bigger pension contribution. I think that Unilever can do more, I’ve earned that respect.”

The union is demanding no more than what other Dutch companies have provided their outsourced workers. In December 2012, for example, Philips outsourced a number of workers, but each worker received as part of the transfer arrangements full compensation for pension losses, based on the pension rights employees had accumulated at Philips before the transfer.

Unilever knows this, but is refusing to negotiate.

Boosted by strong sales growth of Magnum ice cream, Unilever recently announced that CEO Polman’s compensation for an “exceptional” 2012 rose to a total GBP 6 milliion, or USD 9 million,

Polman’s base salary will increase 3.6 percent to GBP 1.01 million pounds in 2013, following a 6 percent increase last July.

The total package includes GBP 250,000 in ‘fixed allowance’, GBP 116,000 in pensions and GBP 288,000 in additional benefits, up from GBP 26,000 the previous year.

As the strikers say, Unilever can do more.