Unilever to Comply with Russian Law Allowing Employee Conscription for War in Ukraine
Unilever, the renowned consumer goods giant, has recently confirmed its decision to comply with Russian legislation that could potentially lead to its employees being conscripted into the war in Ukraine. In a letter addressed to campaign group B4Ukraine, Unilever’s Chief Business Operations and Supply Chain Officer, Reginaldo Ecclissato, expressed the company’s commitment to adhering to the laws of the countries it operates in, including the controversial Russian law requiring firms to permit employee conscription.
It is worth noting that this legislation exclusively applies to individuals holding Russian citizenship. Unilever, with roughly 3,000 employees in Russia, operates manufacturing sites, a head office, and sells a wide range of products, including personal care and hygiene items and ice cream, within the country.
The consumer goods giant’s decision to continue doing business in Russia has sparked criticism, particularly in light of international sanctions and the withdrawal of numerous companies following the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. However, Ecclissato clarified that Unilever thoroughly evaluated its options for its Russia operations, which included closing down all operations, selling the business, or continuing to run the business with certain limitations. Ultimately, Unilever chose the latter option to mitigate the risk of the business falling into the hands of the Russian state and to ensure the safety and protection of its employees.
Unilever has affirmed the authenticity of the letter, while declining to provide any further comments on the matter. This move by the consumer goods giant not only highlights its commitment to complying with local legislation but also sheds light on the complex decisions multinational companies face when dealing with geopolitically sensitive situations.
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