Unilever to shield workers from financial impact of coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

(Reuters) - Consumer goods giant Unilever Plc ULVR.L said on Tuesday it would protect its workforce from the financial impact of the coronavirus by continuing to pay contractors and other part time staff for up to three months.

Unilever said its pay protection plan would be applicable for employees, contractors and others who are managed by the company or who work on its sites on a full or part-time basis.

The maker of Dove soaps and Knorr soup also unveiled a 500 million euro ($543.25 million) relief program to help its “most vulnerable” small- and medium-sized suppliers as well as provide credit to select small-scale retailers.

A number of companies are rolling out relief measures for their employees suffering from immense financial strain due to the coronavirus outbreak.

J.M. Smucker said it would pay its 5,700 manufacturing and distribution workers a one-time bonus of $1,500, while Mondelez said it would increase hourly wages by $2 and pay a $125 weekly bonus for its sales representatives to help meet the surge in demand for packaged foods.

The Anglo-Dutch company is also using some of its current manufacturing lines to produce sanitizer for use in hospitals, schools and other institutional settings, the company said, following similar moves by consumer product companies Beiersdorf BEIG.DE and French luxury goods maker LVMH LVMH.PA.

Unilever said on Tuesday it was also donating soap, sanitizer, bleach and food worth 100 million euros to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Anil D’Silva