Unilever corporation sacks worker for daughter with cancer

From Jewish daily Forward in the USA:

Her Daughter Was Diagnosed With Cancer. Her Corporate Employer Asked Her To Resign

By Haley Cohen, February 10, 2019

Finding a Fortune 500 company that appreciates work-life balance is a challenge in corporate America, and Jennifer Spangenthal was sure that she had found one — right until her daughter was diagnosed with cancer.

Spangenthal, a New Jersey mother of two, who identifies as an Orthodox Jew, was drawn to a career in human resources because she wanted the opportunity to “provide flexibility to other people and help them navigate their lives”, she told the Forward.

In 2014, she began working for the consumer goods company Unilever,

British-Dutch multinational Unilever‘s public relations department says they are a ‘good’ corporation.

However, there are several blots on Unilever’s history.

From profiting from Belgian King Leopold II’s murderous forced labour colonization of Congo; to pollution in India; to demanding internet censorship.

The big boss of Unilever gets 292 times as much as ‘average’ Unilever employees in the Netherlands. Compared to Unilever employees in, eg, African countries, the gap is stil; much bigger. However, Unilever in this is not even the worst, compared to, eg, Amazon.com.

which owns brands including Lipton, Hellmann’s and Suave. There, Spangenthal was tasked with helping to re-design the company’s family leave policy. She hoped her family could personally benefit from the company’s seemingly flexible strategy, as well as help other employees. “I thought I might have found the role that would help me achieve this elusive work-life balance, given their renown for family-friendly work policies,” she said.

But just as she returned from maternity leave following the birth of her son JJ, Spangenthal and her husband David heard four words that are every parents’ nightmare: “Your child has cancer.” Their three-year-old Sophie was fighting for her life, with a diagnosis of pleuropulmonary blastoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in the lungs.

Initially, Unilever was fairly helpful, Spangenthal said, providing her with a period of unpaid leave. Those days were filled with endless cycles of blood draws, chemotherapy treatments, doctor visits, scans, and medical terminology, she recalled. As Sophie’s health slowly began to improve, Spangenthal brought a proposal up to her boss. She no longer felt she needed to be by her daughter’s side 24/7 and was ready to suggest returning to work, but on a part-time schedule. She never got to make the proposition.

“Before I could suggest anything, my boss got on the phone and said, ‘If you can’t come back full-time we need to ask you to resign.’” Spangenthal reluctantly resigned. She said the response was “astonishing” especially given that she had been a full-time employee with the company for over two years.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, United States labor laws require employers to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year with no threat of job loss, should they or an immediate family member face a serious illness. To qualify for FMLA, the employee must have worked for the company for at least one year and there must be 50 or more employees at the business. Some states offer their own paid plans, depending on the situation, including California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. Spangenthal had been on leave for over two months when her boss provided the ultimatum.

While her husband David, an employee at Google, received “exceptional” support in the initial weeks and months following Sophie’s diagnosis, including coworkers being allowed to donate personal vacation time and an offer to work remotely when necessary — across the country, many parents can relate more closely to the Unilever experience.

Robin Wilson, a stay-at-home mom in New York City, told the Forward that her three-year-old son’s leukemia diagnosis led to the collapse of her husband’s IT business. “It’s a different kind of story because my husband was the company owner, but it has to do with business culture in general. A business needs work done. But our work culture does not prioritize people,” she said. Wilson said that within six months of her son’s diagnosis, and her husband taking some time off work, employees stopped showing up and clients “didn’t care.”

A study published in Pediatrics Blood & Cancer in 2015 surveyed the families of 99 Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s patients within the first month of cancer diagnosis and then a second time six months later. It found that about one-quarter of families of children being treated for cancer lost more than 40 percent of their total household income, while one-third experienced housing, energy or food insecurity.

Reportedly, at the time of diagnosis, 20 percent of the families surveyed were low-income (defined as those earning less than twice the federal poverty line). Six months later, an additional 12 percent of families had suffered financial mishaps that placed them below the federal poverty level. Six months after the initial diagnosis, 56 percent of the adults who were supporting their families reported an interference in their work, with 15 percent of parents either quitting or being fired from their jobs. Additionally, 37 percent of the surveyed adults were forced to reduce their hours or had to take a leave of absence from work. Only one third received pay during their time away from work taking care of their child.

Spangenthal said that in her situation, finances were not the most pressing matter. “I wasn’t expecting to be paid. All I wanted was to have a job when I got back,” she said. Since her resignation in April 2017, Spangenthal has devoted her time to being a full-time mother, but said she often considers returning to the work force. Sophie, who is now five-years-old, faced a relapse in March 2018. She finished her latest round of treatment this past November, around the same time that Spangenthal worked up the courage to write an opinion piece that she had been toying with for over a year.

On January 2, NBC News published the piece, headlined “A Fortune 500 company hired me to help them be more family-friendly. Then my own kid got cancer,” written in first-person by Spangenthal. “While many areas of our personal and professional lives have evolved to become more humane, corporate America yet has yet to take notice: Humanity needs to return to corporate America,” she wrote, as she shared her family’s story with the world.

Spangenthal told the Forward that her motive in publishing the story was “to make people become aware that especially in big companies, you really are treated as just a number.” She added that “the image Unilever displays in the media is very different from what really happens. There’s no employee loyalty. Nothing gets in the way of their financial gain.”

Spangenthal said, for employers, there is no single approach that can fit every situation. “I think it’s very much a matter of being sensitive to an employee’s needs. There’s no words to describe how you feel when your child is sick,” she said. “It’s just about having empathy and not kicking somebody when they’re already down.”

Unilever boss, 292 times wage of Unilever workers

This 2012 video from the USA says about itself:

CEOs Make 380x As Much As The Average Worker

Via Think Progress: “According to the latest edition of the AFL-CIO‘s Executive Pay Watch report, the gap between CEO pay and worker pay expanded last year. In 2011, CEOs in the Fortune 500 made an average of $12 million, about 380 times what the average worker makes…”. The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

Read more from Pat Garofalo here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Unilever boss earns 292 times as much as ‘average’ employee

The so-called pay gap – the difference in salary between the highest boss of a corporation and the average employee – is biggest in the Netherlands at Unilever. CEO Paul Polman receives 292 times more than the average worker of the detergent and food corporation, according to research by Het Financieele Dagblad daily.

Just behind that comes the CEO of beer brewer Heineken, Jean Francois van Boxmeer. His remuneration is 277 times higher than that of the average employee. The top men of publisher Relx (184 times), supermarket group Ahold Delhaize (182 times) and publisher Wolters Kluwer (168 times) complete the top five.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman gets 51 percent rise to bring pay package to £10.3 million. March 6, 2018: here. And here. And here.

USA: The wage gap costs Black women nearly $1 million in their lifetimes.

Unilever corporation demands Internet censorship

This video from Britain says about itself:

Unilever – not as clean as it claims

17 January 2012

Unilever, one of the worlds most successful and profitable companies, is trying to change the existing workers’ pension scheme to one that will see thousands of workers retire on a pension reduced by up to 40%. Workers have been fighting to save their pensions, they held the first ever national strike at Unilever in December and are continuing with further strikes accross the UK this week.

By Will Morrow:

Corporate giant Unilever demands crackdown on oppositional Internet content

14 February 2018

The drive to censor the Internet took another step this week with a public statement by Keith Weed, the chief marketing officer for the London-based multinational Unilever, threatening to withdraw advertising from social media platforms if they fail to suppress “toxic content”.

Weed reportedly told an annual leadership meeting of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in Palm Desert, California that the company “will not invest in platforms or environments” that “create divisions in society, and promote anger or hate”. He added, “We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.”

Excerpts of Weed’s remarks—the most explicit of their kind from a major corporate executive—were leaked to several media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian. They were immediately featured on NBC News and other major American news outlets on Sunday. The Journal’s report was accompanied by an interview with Weed.

The coordinated release was designed to escalate the propaganda offensive by the Democratic Party and US intelligence agencies, together with the corporate media, for Internet censorship. The fraudulent premise for this assault on freedom of speech, both in the US and across Europe, is the claim that political opposition and social tensions are the product not of poverty, inequality and policies of austerity and militarism, but of “fake news” spread by Russia through social media.

Weed’s statements preceded yesterday’s US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, which witnessed a series of hysterical denunciations of Russia by politicians and intelligence agents. The Democratic vice-chairman of the committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, declared that Russia “utilized our social media platforms to push and spread misinformation at an unprecedented scale.”

Facebook responded to Weed’s threats by declaring, “[W]e fully support Unilever’s commitments and are working closely with them.” The Journal stated that Unilever “has already held discussions” with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snap and Amazon “to share ideas about what each can do to improve.”

Weed absurdly framed his demand for censorship, made on behalf of a multibillion-dollar global corporation, as the expression of popular anger over the supposed spread of “fake news”. He referred to research showing a decline in trust in social media and a “perceived lack of focus” in the form of “illegal, unethical and extremist behavior and material on” social media platforms. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, he claimed to be articulating the concerns of consumers over “fake news” and “Russians influencing the US election.”

In reality, the intervention by Unilever—a consumer products behemoth with a market capitalization of $157 billion and annual revenues of $65 billion, more than the gross domestic product of many countries—only highlights the economic and political forces driving the censorship campaign: an alliance of the military/intelligence apparatus, giant technology firms and the corporate-financial oligarchy.

Unilever’s annual marketing outlays of nearly $9 billion place it in the top five companies in that category globally. It owns dozens of brands used by some 2.5 billion people around the world, including Dove soap, Rexona deodorant and food products Cornetto, Magnum and Lipton. Weed’s statements amount to a declaration that Unilever will use this economic power to filter what the world’s population can and cannot read online.

This is in line with a long and reactionary tradition. Large advertisers played a significant role in enforcing the McCarthyite witch hunt of socialist and left-wing figures in the US during the late 1940s and 1950s. General Motors, DuPont, Reynolds Tobacco and other major companies were backers of the notorious anticommunist periodical Counterattack, which published names of suspected communist sympathizers and forced the removal of targeted performers and critical content from programs they sponsored.

In one of many such cases, the blacklisted Jean Muir was dropped from the television show “The Aldrich Family” after General Foods, the program’s sponsor, told NBC it would not sponsor programs featuring “controversial persons”.

In another development, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube (owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet), told a Code Media conference in Los Angeles that Facebook “should get back to baby pictures and sharing.” The statement is a reference to Facebook’s announcement last month that it is deprioritizing news content on its News Feed in favor of “personal moments”. The change is one of a number of recent measures to prevent Facebook users from accessing news and analysis outside of officially sanctioned corporate outlets.

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Tuesday released a government-developed application that uses machine-learning algorithms to automatically detect ISIS-related content in videos so that it can be censored.

The BBC wrote that the tool was seen by the government as a way to demonstrate that its “demand for a clampdown on extremist activity was not unreasonable”. Rudd stated, “The technology is there. There are tools out there that can do exactly what we’re asking for”, i.e., identifying and censoring video content. The new application will be provided free of charge to smaller video hosting companies, and the government will consider making its use legally mandatory.

The Washington Post, which along with the New York Times has been at the forefront of the censorship campaign, linked the UK government’s announcement to the intervention of Unilever, writing that it came “amid mounting pressure on social media companies to do more to remove extremist content from their platforms.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, working in conjunction with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Internet technology companies, is intensifying its censorship of selected websites and social media accounts: here.

West Virginia, the class struggle and the fight against Internet censorship: here.

In the latest attack on internet freedom, the US Senate is expected to pass legislation as early as next week that, in the name of combating online sex trafficking, will further increase the powers of the state to censor the internet: here.

Palm oil corporations threaten wildlife

This 2009 video is about Unilever and palm oil.

It says about itself:

The company behind brands such as Flora, Persil, Dove, Knorr and Walls has been accused of one of the greatest environmental crimes ever committed by contributing to the destruction of the orang utan‘s last forest habitat in Borneo.

Greenpeace’s report, Burning up Borneo, says that Unilever uses 1.3 million tons of palm oil or derivative products a year, some three per cent of global production.

It says the company gets half of this from Indonesia, now the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet because of deforestation. The report says there is currently a massive expansion into Kalimantan’s peatland forest areas by Unilever’s suppliers and accuses the company of derailing international efforts to tackle climate change.

Tim Birch, Greenpeace’s International forests campaigner, said: “Unilever, the company behind big brands like Dove, is contributing to one of the greatest environmental crimes ever committed. “By doing nothing to stop its suppliers destroying rainforests and peatlands to grow palm oil, it is not only killing off the last remaining orang-utans on the planet but also speeding up climate change.

“Unless Unilever cleans up its act then the orang-utan could be extinct within a few years, and our chances of avoiding climate disaster could disappear with it.”

Unilever chairs the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an industry body charged with ensuring the sustainability of palm oil. Greenpeace says that despite the RSPO being established in 2002 there is still no certified environmentally sustainable palm oil on the market and forest destruction continues apace.

Peat swamp forests, which host high densities of orang-utans, are targeted for palm oil production. Palm oil plantations are also being developed on logged-over forest land, preventing recovery. As orang-utans and other species lose their rainforests to oil palm plantations, they are deprived of their natural source of food. Seeking to survive off young palm plants, hungry orang-utans can become pests to oil palm producers, and plantation workers commonly kill orang-utans to protect the crop.

According to the Centre for Orangutan Protection, at least 1,500 orang-utans died in 2006 as a result of deliberate attacks by plantation workers.

Thank you to Greenpeace for the information and inspiration.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The real price of palm oil

Friday 6th November 2015

Palm oil is now one of the world’s most sought-after commodities but the methods used for its production threaten the environment and worsen climate change, says PETER FROST

Today palm oil, an edible plant oil, has become a common ingredient in many consumer products. It is contained in thousands of items from processed foods to candles, cosmetics, detergents and biofuels. Many of the most popular fast food chains fry in palm oil.

Strangely you won’t find it listed on most ingredient labels, only a few manufacturers — mostly in the organic sector — label their products as containing palm oil. Most companies disguise it, referring to it simply as vegetable oils and fats.

The demand for palm oil has increased worldwide sharply over the last few years. With 53 million tons in 2011 it is the most widely produced vegetable oil. It has the highest yield of any oil crop and is the cheapest vegetable oil to produce and refine.

But, and it is a huge but, this burgeoning industry is threatening rainforests and the rich flora and fauna that make them their habitat.

Everything from elephants, tigers, rhinos, orangutans and even rare carnivorous pitcher plants are being pushed to the edge of extinction.

Oil palms need a rainforest climate, with its consistently high humidity and temperatures, and a lot of land, so plantations are often set up at the expense of rainforests.

About 90 per cent of the world’s palm oil production currently comes from Malaysia and Indonesia where palm oil plantations are currently the leading cause of rainforest destruction.

New estimates suggest that 98 per cent of the rainforest there may be destroyed by 2022 as it’s being obliterated at a rate equivalent to 300 football pitches every hour.

It isn’t just forest plant and animal species that are at risk — the slash-and-burn clearing of huge areas is a real threat to both the local and the global environment.

When preparing rainforest land for a palm oil plantation any valuable trees are cut down and the timber removed first. What remains is cleared by burning. If the forest is on peatland, as is the case in much of Indonesia, the land is drained.

Peatlands store vast quantities of carbon and the conversion of a single hectare of Indonesian peatland rainforest releases up to 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Tropical deforestation — much of it for palm oil — is currently responsible for about 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, making it a significant contributor to climate change.

Indonesia’s rainforests and peatlands are among the world’s most species-rich environments on earth and home to numerous endangered plants and animals, such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers and Borneo rhinos.

Rare and exotic plants like nepenthes — the carnivorous pitcher plants — as well as various species of orchids also need the particular conditions of the mature rainforest to survive.

Orangutans are particularly vulnerable because they are dependent on large forest areas. In search of food, they often stray on to the palm oil plantations, where they are regarded as pests and around 1,500 orangutans a year are clubbed to death by palm oil plantation workers. The UN predicts that no wild orangutans will remain outside protected areas by 2020.

As the campaign against palm oil has grown the industry has tried various attempts to give the impression it has cleaned up its act.

Several companies have pledged to use only organic palm oil. While this might work for some companies, worldwide demand cannot possibly be covered by organic palm oil alone.

Organic isn’t always what it claims to be. One supplier of organic palm oil in Colombia has been responsible for serious accidents and spills, excessive use of water, pollution, deforestation and the eviction of small farmers from their land.

Major palm oil producers and consumers established the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in co-operation with nature charity WWF. Members include Nestle and Unilever and the label association is chaired by a senior executive of the Unilever Group.

The aim of the RSPO label is to promote the production and sale of palm oil even further and restore its social acceptability.

It does not stop the clearing of rainforest. Only what it calls high conservation value forests are protected. But there is no international agreement in what constitutes “high conservation values.”

Companies that are members of RSPO have been involved in some dubious behaviour. Wilmar — the world’s leading palm oil company — for instance is involved in over a hundred land conflicts and human rights violations in Indonesia alone.

Sinar Mas — another major RSPO player — has cleared tropical rainforest all over the country for its palm oil plantations and is expanding rapidly.

Climate protection is a consideration that the RSPO ignores completely, hence Greenpeace International considers RSPO to be “little more than greenwash.”

Now things are about to get worse. Standard Chartered, a massive transnational bank, is about to bankroll the third-largest palm oil producer in the world Felda to purchase even more palm oil land in Indonesia.

Yet Felda, which was set up by the Malaysian government, has been accused of being responsible for horrific slave-labour conditions and widespread environmental destruction.

The Wall Street Journal carried a report recently about the way Felda runs its palm oil business in Malaysia.

It interviewed a 22-year-old palm cutter who said he had been working for Felda seven days a week for some months without receiving any pay. He was trafficked from Bangladesh and had endured three weeks in a crowded boat with inadequate food and water, followed by more weeks confined in a jungle camp while guards extorted a ransom from his parents back home.

The Journal reported that this spring Malaysian and Thai police found nearly 150 bodies of people thought to have died in human traffickers’ camps. Nearly 50,000 people have boarded boats for the perilous journey to Malaysia in the past two years alone and many died on the way.

The US Department of Labour has cited Malaysian palm oil production as an industry where forced labour occurs. The State Department, in its Trafficking in Persons Report for last year condemned Malaysia.

Some of Felda’s workers are desperate refugees who relied on people-traffickers to get them into Malaysia.

Other accusations against Felda are that it gets its workers through labour contractors — who have been known to have confiscated workers’ passports — and that it makes the workers pay for their own equipment.

The abuse is ongoing and contractors have been known to illegally withhold low wages for months on end.

A massive international campaign seeks to persuade Standard Chartered not to loan the money to Felda.

• You can find out more at www.sumofus.org

GREENPEACE ended its five-year truce with pulp and paper giant Sinarmas yesterday, accusing the company of cutting down tropical forests in Indonesia while they were co-operating on conservation: here.

Indian musical protest against Unilever pollution

This music video from India says about itself:

Kodaikanal Won’t

30 July 2015

Sign the petition asking for Unilever to clean up the mercury poisoning in Kodaikanal.

Written by Chennai-born rapper Sofia Ashraf and set to Nicki Minaj‘s “Anaconda,” the video takes an undisguised jab at Unilever for its failure to clean up mercury contamination or compensate workers affected by its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal.

Lyrics by Sofia Ashraf
Conceived and Directed by Rathindran R Prasad
With thanks to Nicki Minaj

More about this is here.

British workers strike, 30 November 2011

British strike picket

Big British public sector strike tomorrow, on 30 November 2011. International solidarity with that British strike: here.

British Unilever workers will strike: here.

The nurses’ union, and other workers, in the USA have rallies in support of the big strike in Britain of 30 November 2011: here.

Daily The Guardian in Britain’s coverage of the strike: here. Socialist Worker coverage: here.

Massive strikes in UK protest government austerity. Ari Berman reports: here.

Media and the strike: here.

Women in Britain today are fed up and that really isn’t good news for the government. The economy is declining, yet the cost of living is rising. And it’s women who are feeling the pinch become tighter and tighter in the rise in household bills, food prices, and increases for those that use public transport and petrol for those that drive: here.

CND peace sign, how it was born

This video says about itself:

The internationally recognized symbol for peace (☮) was originally designed for the British nuclear disarmament movement by Gerald Holtom in 1958. The symbol is a combination of the semaphore signals for the letters “N” and “D,” standing for “nuclear disarmament”.

In semaphore the letter “N” is formed by a person holding two flags in an inverted “V,” and the letter “D” is formed by holding one flag pointed straight up and the other pointed straight down. Superimposing these two signs forms the shape of the centre of the peace symbol.

By Richard Maunders in Britain:

Our sign not for sale

Wednesday 14th May 2014

As CND wins a payout from Unilever for using its famous symbol, RICHARD MAUNDERS looks at how it was born

WHEN in 1958, British textile designer and peace activist Gerald Holtom sketched out his design of an emblem for the peace movement, the last thing he had in mind was that it should be used to promote a men’s deodorant.

The motif’s significance was to give the embryonic peace movement in Britain an identity that could be easily recognised and copied.

The design was based on the semaphor signal ND (Nuclear Disarmament) and drawn in the form of a “drooping cross” within a white circle.

Holtom deliberately used black and white because newspapers and television were mostly produced in monochrome at the time and the symbol would be more striking to the eye.

It was a stroke of genius, in simplicity and impact. The forerunner of the CND, the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC) adopted the symbol for its first march against nuclear weapons in 1958.

This was at the height of the cold war when the US, Britain and the USSR were carrying out nuclear weapon tests.

Seven weeks before the first Aldermaston march Holtom came into the offices of Peace News with his designs.

The then editor of Peace News Hugh Brock wrote of that first meeting: “Gerald Holtom, with a single-mindedness of a prophet, was burning with conviction that the forthcoming march should have a symbol associated with it that would leave in the public mind a visual image that meant nuclear disarmament.

“He insisted that the symbols be mounted on very light lathes of wood so that the marchers could carry them easily and they be pasted on to a light card with waterproof adhesive.

“Quite frankly Pat (Arrowsmith) and I were sceptical about the symbol. Gerald was insistent it would sweep across the country, and of course, events have proved him right.”

Holtom was right beyond anyone’s imagination. The first march over Easter in 1958 began with nearly 600 marchers walking 52 miles over four days.

It ended outside the gates of Aldermaston with 10,000 people listening to the speeches and singing peace songs.

A new peace movement was born with a new symbol.

No-one could be in doubt about what it stood for — an end to nuclear weapons, unilateral disarmament and for peace.

The Times sneered at the time that the marchers were “Stalin’s puppets” but despite the distortions and demonisation of CND and its supporters, the peace movement gained immense support across Britain and the world, due in no small part to Holtom’s purposeful design genius and what it represented.

The fact that Unilever has pinched Holtom’s design in order to promote its new range of deodorants maybe an ironic twist to the story of a symbol that means much more to the peace-loving people of the world than tacky scent.

Holtom meant it to be used in the fight for peace and an end to nuclear weapons, not for the profits of Unilever.

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Unilever abuses peace sign to sell deodorant

This video from Britain says about itself:

Sian Jones, representing the Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp, addresses the rally in Trafalgar Square during the ‘No Trident‘, ‘Troops out of Iraq‘ demonstration on 24 February 2007.

CND peace signs featured prominently at this demonstration, as in many other pro-peace demonstrations.

This video is about making a CND peace sign with henna on someone’s hand.

By Luke James in Britain:

CND threatens Unilever over use of peace symbol

Friday 9th May 2014

Cynical transnational using iconic anti-nuclear sign to flog Lynx deodorant

CAMPAIGN for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) threatened to sue consumer goods transnational Unilever yesterday for “cynically” using its iconic peace symbol to flog deodorant.

The Morning Star can reveal CND has been forced to resort to legal action after Unilever refused to make a donation for using its symbol to brand and advertise its Lynx products.

Unilever are not only abusing a peace symbol, but also a beautiful animal, the lynx.

Unilever has a history of advertisements which are … err … ‘economical with the truth’.

In 2011, ‘a series of ads by Unilever’s Lynx – a brand of deodorants for men – were banned by the UK’s Advertising Standard Authority over complaints that the ads were degrading to women and gratuitously objectified them’: here. “Lynx” is called “Axe” in some other countries.

A copyright row has been brewing since the new “Lynx Peace” range, including body spray, shower gel and shampoo, was launched last month.

The bottles all feature the distinctive peace logo that was created for CND when it was established in 1957.

The logo was not copyrighted in order for it to be spread across the world but CND has previously received donations from dozens of companies who used it for commercial gain.

A Unilever spokeswoman said it was refusing to cough up following CND’s polite request because “the icon is recognised and used as a universal symbol of peace.”

But the company has identified the symbol as CND’s on the official Lynx Effect Twitter account.

A message promoting a photo stunt for the campaign to 60,000 followers reads: “One giant, man-made CND symbol in Trafalgar Square, London for #LynxPeace”

CND general secretary Kate Hudson said: “By describing it as the ‘CND symbol’ Lynx is no longer offering a generic nod to peace, but is directly trading off our 56-year legacy.

“The millions who have stood with CND symbols in Trafalgar Square over the last half-century will find it galling to see such a flagrant co-opting of decades of activism against nuclear weapons and war.”

The compensation bid comes after the peace group forced a high-street chain that used its symbol to make a donation in a similar stand-off last year.

The company initially refused but relented when the campaign’s lawyers confronted it with a strong case, the Star understands.

Unilever is marketing the products with a “make love, not war” campaign in conjunction with Peace One Day, which organises support for the UN’s Peace Day on September 21.

The Lynx promotional website states: “For decades Lynx has brought guys and girls together, but Lynx Peace is taking it one step further by using the power of attraction to bring the world together in the name of love, not war.”

Visitors are also asked to Tweet their own peace pledge.

Ms Hudson called it “refreshing” to see big business taking an interest in peace issues and investing £9 million in its advertising campaign for Britain that will expose millions to CND’s symbol and its meaning.

But she added: “We draw the line when a corporation cynically uses not only our symbol but CND’s name and history for profit.

“Let’s not mince our words here: Lynx Peace is a marketing campaign to sell deodorant.”

So, a corporation with a twentieth century history of helping King Leopold II of Belgium kill millions of Africans in Congo and a twenty-first century history of oppressing workers in Pakistan and elsewhere, acts like polluting corporations trying to ‘greenwash‘ themselves in public relations. Unilever has also been accused of that. Unilever now tries to ‘peacewash’ itself. Cynically, one may suggest it could have been even worse: merchants of death like BAE Systems abusing the peace sign, using the slogan from George Orwell’s novel 1984, ‘War is peace’.

UPDATE: CORPORATE giant Unilever has caved in to pressure from peace campaigners to cough up a donation to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) for use of its iconic symbol: here.

Unilever in France: here.

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British Africa aid to corporations, not Africans

This video about Congo says about itself:

The greed for resources and Christian souls was a lesson in brutal European colonialism. In this case Belgian King Leopold II.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Britain ‘spends Africa aid on big business’

Tuesday 11 December 2012

The British government is spending millions of pounds promoting the interests of multinationals in Africa instead of fighting poverty, charity War on Want claimed today.

Global food and drink firms that produce many household brands have benefited at the expense of small-scale farmers in countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi, the charity alleges.

According to War on Want those companies include Monsanto, Unilever, Diageo and SABMiller.

It also accuses the Department for International Development (DFID) of undermining efforts to combat poverty by increasing corporate power over local agriculture and supporting land grabs in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.

It further argues that the government’s policy will increase hunger levels in Africa, already up from 175 million to 239 million in two decades, citing UN figures.

In a new report published today the charity also criticised close personal connections between the British government and multinational companies.

Unilever is one example, where its CEO Paul Polman sits with David Cameron on the UN High Level Panel on global poverty.

DFID’s director of policy Nick Dyer started his career with Unilever, while the firm’s external affairs director for Africa Douglas Brew was previously Africa regional manager for DFID.

The report also exposed DFID’s support for a complex network of companies and investment funds registered in Mauritius, one of Africa’s foremost tax havens.

The revelation comes at a time when senior government officials are pledging to crack down on corporate tax avoidance in response to the public outcry over avoidance by firms such as Starbucks, Amazon and Google.

War on Want executive director John Hilary said: “DFID is channelling more and more UK aid to multinational food companies seeking to take over land and agriculture in Africa.

“Yet the expansion of corporate control over farming will increase vulnerability among the world’s poorest communities, deepening poverty and hunger for years to come.

“DFID should be using the aid budget to support small-scale farming in Africa, not boosting the profits of big business.”

The African People’s Land Grab Declaration: here.

Lying Unilever commercials

Striking Unilever workers in Pakistan

Translated from Nieuws.nl in the Netherlands today:

Golden wind-egg for misleading Unilever bread

(Novum) Utrecht – Unilever has won the Golden wind-egg. The food manufacturer received the award for most misleading product of the year, for the Blue Band Goede Start! white bread. About that bread, Unilever claimed for years that it supposedly is as healthy as wholemeal bread. Unilever has already adapted the text on the packaging.

Unilever did that just before getting the “award”

According to the organizer of the prize awards, Unilever violates the trust of its customers with lies about its products. “The biggest food manufacturer in the Netherlands can now set an example for the entire industry by making its advertising and marketing honest.”

The bread was voted by visitors to the site of foodwatch to be the worst misleading product. Second came the “little fruit bottle” of Nestle, a superfluous follow-up milk brand for babies. Third was the drink Crystal Clear Shine Cranberry Elderberry Blossom by Heineken, which contains only one hundredth of a teaspoon of cranberry.

Food Sovereignty Responds to Corporate Takeover of Food Production. Yve le Grand, Truthout: “Although the credit crunch has pushed the issue of the global food crisis to the background, it is still going on today. In fact, the number of chronically hungry people worldwide has risen and is estimated to amount to 967 million people according to the new Declaration of Human Rights, launched by the Cordoba process at the end of 2008, on the occasion of the Declaration’s 60th anniversary. The world famine in the 1970s led the Declaration to introduce the concept of food security: ‘… the availability at all times of adequate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices.’ This definition of food security, which is basically a technical matter of providing adequate human nutrition, led to the assumption that more food production would solve the problem of mass starvation”: here.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., L.D.: “Healthy” Restaurant Foods to Avoid: here.

100 Percent Scared: How the National Security Complex Grows on Terrorism Fears. Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch: “Here, then, is one of the strange, if less explored, phenomena of our post-9/11 American age: in only one area of life are Americans officially considered 100% scared, and so 100% in need of protection, and that’s when it comes to terrorism. For an E. coli strain that could pose serious dangers, were it to arrive here, there is no uproar. No screaming headlines highlight special demands that more money be poured into food safety; no instant plans have been rushed into place to review meat and vegetable security procedures; no one has been urging that a Global War on Food-Borne Illnesses be launched. In fact, at this moment, six strains of E. coli that do cause illness in this country remain unregulated. Department of Agriculture proposals to deal with them are ‘stalled’ at the Office of Management and Budget. Meanwhile, the super-toxic E. coli strain that appeared in Europe remains officially unregulated here. On the other hand, send any goofus America-bound on a plane with any kind of idiotic device, and the politicians, the media, and the public promptly act as if – and it’s you I’m addressing, Chicken Little – the sky were falling or civilization itself were at risk”: here.

Hedge funds are behind “land grabs” in Africa to boost their profits in the food and biofuel sectors, a US think-tank says: here.

Kevin Kiley, Inside Higher Ed: “A series of reports by the Oakland Institute charge that several prominent American universities – including Harvard and Vanderbilt Universities and Spelman College – are investing in hedge funds and companies that are driving African farmers off their land. The California-based think tank, which focuses on social, economic and environmental issues, is producing a series of reports on how Western entities are investing in land in Africa and the effects of those investments. In the reports, the institute alleges that these investments are increasing price volatility and supply insecurity in the global food chain, and not returning to African nations the benefits that were promised. The main link the reports establish between Harvard, Vanderbilt and Spelman and land development in Africa is a London-based hedge fund called Emergent Asset Management”: here.

International food crisis due to agribusinesses and speculation: here.

The United Nations warned today that growing swathes of the global population will no longer be able to afford to eat in the next decade: here.

Ban Proposed on Export Restrictions That Undermine Food Security. Isolda Agazzi, Inter Press Service: “Egypt has initiated a proposal in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ban export restrictions on farm products to poor countries that are net food importers. The Group of 20 has also exhorted the upcoming WTO ministerial conference to adopt a specific resolution on export restrictions… Export restrictions on foodstuffs were one of the key drivers of the food crisis and price spikes during 2007 – 2011”: here.

“Corporate power and profit-driven interests dominate the management of each level of food distribution.” Here.

More than 20 environmental organisations across Europe are calling on the EU to stop the environmental damage caused by EU biofuels targets with the help of Peter and Jane, characters in this specially-created animated short film: here.