Ponds workers protest against the Hindustan Unilever management and insist on implementing the demands of the beneficiaries!


Ponds workers protest against the Hindustan Unilever management and insist on implementing the demands of the beneficiaries!

Akila Munnal Pond’s Employees  Nalasangam President KJ Mohankumar and Secretary JC Sabastin have said in a joint statement:-

The former employees of Pond’s group of companies, under the banner of Agila Munnal Pond’s Employees Nalasangam, have been agitating for several years to press their demands regarding non-implementation of benefits under three welfare Trusts set up by Pond’s (India) Limited during the years 1980 to 1984 for the welfare of its employees including Supervisors and Managers prior to its merger with Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL).

As part of this agitation, the members of the Agila Munnal pond’s Employees Nalasangam will undertake a day-long fast from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of the Rajaratnam Stadium, Egmore, on September 2, 2022, in a bid to secure long-pending demands as beneficiaries of the three Welfare Trusts.

The Nalasangam president, Mr. K. J. Mohan Kumar, formed Senior HR Manager of Pond’s / Hindustan Unilever Limited and their General Secretary Mr. J.C. Sebastian, former employee of Pond’s, have pointed out at this press conference organised in Chennai on August 30, 2022, that the management of HUL had unscrupulously closed down all the Pond’s factories.

The irrevocable Trusts — Pond’s Employees Welfare Trust (1980), Pond’s Management Staff Welfare Trust (1981), and Pond’s Supervisory Staff Welfare Trust (1984) — were formed with the intention to provide or assist in the provision of the education, training, marriage, medical facilities, housing facilities, sports, games, cultural and other activities and the welfare in general of the employees, their spouses, children and dependents. The offices and units of Pond’s were closed in order to deny the workers the benefits of the Welfare Trusts and also to take over the corpus of the welfare trust funds, they said.

The corpus of the three welfare Trusts amounted to more than Rs. 1,765 crore as on 2012, which would have multiplied several folds to a value of over Rs. 4,500 crore.

The funds for the three welfare Trusts were provided for from the profits earned through the blood and sweat of the employees. The funds of the welfare trust should only go to the employees of the Company, but over 4,000 former employees and their dependants have not derived any benefit at all from the Trusts. The management had admitted that the workers, both working and retired, including their dependants were beneficiaries to whom benefits were due even after retirement and closure of the companies but had failed to implement schemes for beneficiaries and their dependants. According to the original trust deed, the benefits have to go to the employees till their death and/or the lives of their dependants. Yet, the employees have been denied benefits.

The employees were kept in the dark about the formation of the Trusts, their details and functioning. Many of the employees suffered due to ill-health and starvation. The erstwhile Pond’s workers engaged in Cosmetics, Leather, Thermometer and Mushroom business are suffering (Heart problem, skin allergy, respiratory problem etc.) due to occupation-related issues and are unable to meet the medical requirements due to lack of financial resources. Several of them have lost their lives and many others are bed-ridden, counting their days to the grave.

Therefore, the Nalasangam makes the following demands to the Government of India and Tamil Nadu Government and its departments to ensure the following to the  beneficiaries of the Trusts:

1. To furnish the audited balance sheet of the three Welfare Trusts from the date of formation of the Trusts.
2. To incorporate three members from the Managers, Supervisors and Employees into the above Welfare Trusts as Trustees.
3. To facilitate merger of the three Welfare Trusts and evolve a scheme of disbursement of the Trust Corpus to the Beneficiaries and their dependants.
4. To direct the concerned law-enforcement wings of this country to take stringent action against the Trustees and the company (HUL) for violations with regard to implementation by the Trusts.
5. To freeze the bank accounts of all the three welfare Trusts till the above demands are met.
This is stated in the statement released to media.