• Loading

Unilever Ireland gets a surprise visit from 'Transparency'

by Dave Thomas | 12 October 2011

Unilever Ireland gets a visit from Christian Aid campaignersA group of Christian Aid Ireland campaigners recently paid a visit to the headquarters of Unilever Ireland on the outskirts of Dublin.We were dressed as a  new cleaning product 'Transparency', vowing to 'clean up tax dodging'.

Our intention was to take a few photos and hand in a letter to the managing director of Unilever Ireland, asking them to support Christian Aid's trace the tax campaign for country-by-country reporting of profits made and taxes paid by multinationals.

A frosty greeting

'There is perhaps no greater positive contribution that Unilever could make than to play a lead role in ending the financial secrecy.'

We are  asking Unilever to support us because of their leading track record on corporate social responsibility and their influence as a huge multinational.

However, the security staff at the business park had different ideas. They were obviously a bit startled by our appearance and convinced we were there to cause trouble. We were locked out and informed that if we didn't leave the Gardaí would be called.

At this stage we still hadn't spoken to anyone from Unilever. As well as the letter to their managing director we had also brought hundreds of campaign postcards signed by Irish citizens. We were determined to hand these to Unilever.

We phoned the Unilever offices and the receptionist on the other side of the locked dooor picked up the phone. After a bit of convincing, a member of Unilever management came out to meet with us. We were able to hand in the letter and postcards and to explain more of the details of the tax campaign. We made it clear that we are not accusing Unilever of tax dodging, but simply asking them to support our campaign for greater tax transparency.

We want renowned and well-respected companies to help us push for change in accounting rules and so play their part in the fight against global poverty.

'Transparency' campaigners

Transparency campaigners have been visiting other Unilever offices and factories throughout the UK and Ireland over the last few months. We hope that along with the thousands of campaign postcards and emails they have received Unilever will be convinced to use their influence as a global company operating in almost 100 countries to take a lead in calling for greater tax transparency.

At the recent One Young World Summit Unilever's CEO Paul Polman said that Unilever had embraced 'a radical business model that would not only reduce [their] negative impact on society, but actually contribute positively to society as a result of [their] activities.'

There is perhaps no greater positive contribution that Unilever could make than to play a lead role in ending the financial secrecy that allows some unscrupulous multinationals to dodge taxes and which denies developing countries an estimated $160 billion each year  - money that could be spent on education, healthcare, water and sanitation for the world's poor.


Take action!

Act now!Call on David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Nicolas Sarkozy to end tax haven secrecy at this year’s G20.


 About the author

David Thomas

David Thomas is our education and campaigns coordinator in Ireland

 Browse our blog