Union fears for jobs at Chirk's Cadbury plant

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

THE successful bid for Cadbury by US food giant Kraft marks a “very sad day for UK manufacturing,” says the Unite union.

As the Leader revealed yesterday, 250 workers at Cadbury’s Chirk plant are now fearful for the future of their jobs.

According to Unite, Kraft is thought to have persuaded large institutional shareholders that an increased bid for Cadbury is enough to swap a 200-year history of growth and independence for a place within the conglomerate’s growing portfolio.

The union claims the increased bid, an estimated £11.5 billion, and the “continued exclusion of workers and key shareholders from the takeover consultation”, means its concerns for Cadbury’s future and the future of nearly 7,000 workers in the UK and Ireland very much remain.

Jennie Formby, Unite’s national officer for food and drink, said: “This is a very sad day for UK manufacturing.

“A successful, iconic, independent UK brand will now be owned by a giant company with massive debt.

“We have very real fears about how Kraft will repay its debt, particularly as it has ratcheted it up still further in order to purchase Cadbury.

“Whatever good intentions Kraft may have towards Cadbury’s workforce, the sad truth is there will be an irresistible imperative to pay down their debt, and this raises real fears for jobs and investment in this country.”

She added: “There are huge lessons to be learned from this takeover for UK business.

"Short-term City interests and institutional shareholders have dictated this process from the outset with little thought to the impact this sale will have on jobs, the supply chain or Cadbury’s future.

“Unless our takeover regulations are changed, there is nothing the government or employees can do to prevent this happening again to another UK company.

“We will now be seeking urgent meetings with the senior management of both Kraft and Cadbury looking for guarantees over jobs and sites in the UK and Ireland to put our members’ fears at rest.”

Cadbury chairman Roger Carr said in a BBC TV interview that job losses are an “inevitability” at the company after the takeover.

But he suggested these would be lost at the Uxbridge headquarters in London.

He added he saw Kraft both supporting and developing Cadbury’s UK production facilities.

The Prime Minister has pledged to do all he can to protect the Cadbury jobs.

John Bell, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Clwyd South, said he hoped future management would maintain the tradition of Cadbury and recognise the capabilities and commitment of its workforce.

He added: “Ultimately, the takeover is a matter for Cadbury’s shareholders, but Cadbury has a great history of providing employment and growth in Chirk and the West Midlands.

“Given the size and rural nature of this constituency, such large scale employers are relatively few and far between.

“The fact that about 80 per cent of the workforce in Chirk live within 10 miles of the factory demonstrate the importance that should be placed on helping businesses like Cadbury to continue to prosper and grow.”

See full story in the Leader

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