Unilever: Extract from 'Written in Flames'

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Extract from the pamphlet Written in Flames, published in 1987. Full reference: I-Spy Productions Written in Flames: Naming the British Ruling Class London: Hooligan Press ISBN 1869802071. Undated, but published in 1987.

Multinationals are obsessed by Immortality. Sir Kenneth Durham's parting words to his Unilever executives were : “am now certain that Unilever will survive well Into the next century”. Like some medieval state they build defences and make alliances to ensure their power. And like a Renaissance prince, Durham ordered the renovation of Unilever's art deco head office and stacked It with a prestigious collectlon of contemporary art. At the same time as cutting Unilever's world-wide workforce.

There's no escape from a multinational like Unilever: It owns and produces Birds Eye, Walls, Mattessons, Brooke Bond, John West, Stork and most margarines, Surf, Persil, Glbbs, Signal and other soaps and detergents. Unilever Itself, remains hidden behind Its subsidiaries and brandnames. At its top, a committee of three design strategies for the global empire. The decision to shift Birds Eye production from Britain to Brazil might have been taken years ago and only told to the Birds Eye workers at the last moment.

Unilever is an Anglo Dutch group. It was set up by the merger of William Lever’s soap company and the Dutch margarine union. Its main source of growth was the palm nut plantations on the west coast of Africa. William Lever took his products and sold them as the first brand names on the British market. Now Unilever sells all around the world. It still owns plantations but prefers to swap and change between countries, playing one labour force against the other, making profits of £1 bil1ion.

Kenneth Durham retired in 1986. At the head of the British section of Unilever now is Michael Angus, a 57 year old Bristol University graduate who made his name as Unilever regional director for North America.

Prof. Sir Geoffrey Allen is head of research at Unilever. In '86, 28 people were imprisoned after an animal liberation raid at Unilever's top security laboratory in Bedfordshire. Allen is 62.

Non-executives are Lord Hunt the former Cabinet Secretary and now chairman of the Prudential. and Philip Lever. 3rd Viscount Leverhulme. He's the grandson of William Lever the founding patriarch and he's lord lieutenant of Cheshire.