Unilever boss’s visit to Port Sunlight blasted as ‘unnecessary’

UNILEVER has explained why its chief executive travelled to Wirral from outside the region after a whistleblower said the visit was unnecessary.

The individual, who contacted the Local Democracy Reporting Service, claimed Alan Jope visited the firm's Port Sunlight site on Monday to watch a presentation.

In his view, this could easily have been done via videolink.

Therefore, the whistleblower thought Mr Jope's visit was an unnecessary one that could cost lives.

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Mr Jope is understood to have taken a journey of a couple of hours to visit the Port Sunlight factory.

Unilever strongly denied the whistleblower's accusations.

The firm said Mr Jope did not visit to see a presentation, but instead to understand the situation on the ground for workers at Unilever’s biggest UK factory.

A spokesperson for Unilever, said: "As CEO, Alan's priorities are the safety of employees and ensuring business continuity across our operations, as Unilever continues to serve consumers with the everyday products they need at this difficult time.

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"Alan wanted to understand the situation on the ground for our factories, including seeing the enhanced health and safety protocols which have been put in place across all Unilever sites to protect our employees.

"He therefore visited Port Sunlight, Unilever's biggest factory site in the UK, adhering to the enhanced health and safety protocols throughout his time on site.

"Alan reviewed our operations and thanked our people for their hard work and commitment".

On this basis, Unilever said the visit constituted essential business travel and was not in any way a breach of the lockdown.

The whistleblower claimed some employees were "incensed" by Mr Jope's visit, but were told that managers "would not dare" speak out about it.

However, Unilever said this was not true and it had not received any complaints from workers about Mr Jope's visit.