abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphLinkedInlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb

25 Sep 2023

Caroline Kimeu, The Guardian (UK)

Kenya: Unilever compensates tea pickers assaulted in a 2007 plantation attack

" Unilever to make payments to Kenyan tea pickers over 2007 plantation attacks" 25 September 2023

The UK law firm Leigh Day, representing the workers, said the London-based consumer goods multinational had agreed to make voluntary, or ex-gratia, payments to former workers at its subsidiary Unilever Tea Kenya, who were attacked by armed assailants at its plantation in Kericho. Unilever said that after an independent review it had identified people who missed out on financial support the company offered workers at the time.

Seven people were killed and more than 50 women were raped at the plantation when violence broke out across Kenya in December 2007 over allegations of electoral fraud. The attacks were along ethnic lines – the Kalenjin against smaller groups, including Kisii, who made up the bulk of the plantation workers. The plantation was temporarily closed after the attacks. When it reopened, Unilever said it gave workers money, furniture, bedding and clothing to replace looted items. It also said it offered medical support and counselling. Workers who did not return were offered redundancy packages, the company said. However, the workers maintain they were not adequately compensated. Those who returned said they received a sum worth about £80 each, equivalent to one month’s wages, which they said was not proportionate to what they had suffered. Some of the tea workers have reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. One former female employee reportedly contracted HIV after being raped. In 2015, Leigh Day filed a case on behalf of the victims in the UK, alleging that Unilever had failed to take adequate measures to protect them from the risk of harm. The case was dismissed. Unilever has always denied responsibility for the violence and rejects allegations that it failed in a duty of care to employees or their families. In 2020, 218 of the tea pickers filed a complaint with the UN, alleging that Unilever violated international human rights standards by not adequately assisting them. The complaint is ongoing. In May, a UN working group on human rights and business wrote to Hein Schumacher, Unilever’s chief executive, expressing “deep concern” that victims “had not had access to justice and/or to an effective remedy”.

Part of the following timelines

Unilever lawsuit (re ethnic violence in Kenya)

Kenya: Unilever allegedly "sidestepped" responsibility for tea workers' grievances with new compensation payouts for 2007 attacks; incl. co. response