Four days after a rap song that took a swipe at Unilever for its failure to curb mercury poisoning in Kodaikanal became a social media hit, the company responded to the concerns about its former factory on Tuesday.
In a press release published on its website, Unilever said that it 'continues to take the issue very seriously and it’s one we are keen to see resolved'.
Listing several 'expert studies' that have been conducted since the factory’s closure, Unilever claimed that its 'former employees did not suffer ill-health due to the nature of their work'.
The company assured that it will 'continue to act in a transparent and responsible manner regarding this matter' and have asked all the NGOs, employee representatives and legal representatives to come together and agree on an outcome.
Safety is our number one priority. Extensive studies found no harm to workers or environment in Kodaikanal. Facts: http://t.co/QaKjYlpsUN— Unilever (@Unilever) August 4, 2015
We’ve taken action to clean up soil on factory premises – now waiting final consent from local authority before completing.— Unilever (@Unilever) August 4, 2015
Working hard to find fair resolution with former workers – but need all parties around the table to agree on an outcome.— Unilever (@Unilever) August 4, 2015
More facts about this matter are available on our website: http://t.co/QaKjYlpsUN— Unilever (@Unilever) August 4, 2015
"Kodaikanal won't" rap
The response came after social media users bombarded Unilever's communication channels, questioning them on its alleged failure to clean up mercury contamination in Kodaikanal. They alleged that company had dumped it's industrial waste contaminated with mercury on the land behind its factory and had not taken responsibility for the damages caused.
A social media campaign against the company achieved momentum after Chennai-born rapper Sofia Ashraf's song "Kodaikanal won't", which took on the company, went viral on the internet. It continues to trend on Facebook four days after its release.
The song had crossed 12 lakh views on Youtube when this article was published.
Late but latest
Environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman, who has been working with the Kodaikanal factory workers for the past 14 years, posted on his Facebook page: "Unilever has said it is eager to address the concerns of its former workers, and is keen to ensure that all stakeholders are on board. Rs. 1000 crores -- or 2 percent of Unilever's annual advertising budget -- can ensure that all stakeholders are on board. It is up to Unilever to get on board."