Cadbury workers stage protest over jobs threat

| January 27, 2010

Workers at British confectioner Cadbury are to stage a protest today in Bournville, Birmingham in a bid to urge shareholders to reject the takeover offer from US food giant, Kraft.

Kraft, which is renowned for brands such as Kenco coffee and Oreo biscuits, made an offer of £11.7 billion last week which 186-year-old Cadbury agreed to.

Following the announcement, Roger Carr, chairman of Cadbury told the BBC that job losses were an “inevitability” at the company.

Cadbury has a global workforce of 45,000 and as news of the takeover emerged, the Unite union also warned that Kraft plans at least 10,000 job cuts worldwide in order to cut costs and wrote to Cadbury shareholders, urging them to reject the offer.

However, the deal still has to be approved by shareholders which is why Cadbury employees will protest today outside the meeting at Bourneville – the historic home of the confectioner.

Shareholders have until February 2 to accept the offer.

Unite national officer Jennie Formby said: “We urge Cadbury shareholders, who now have the fate of the company in their hands, to think very carefully about Kraft’s revised offer and ask themselves is it in the best interests of either business.”

The takeover is also being strongly opposed by Business Secretary, Lord Peter Mandelson.

Last month, Lord Mandelson sent a warning shot to Kraft saying: “If you think that you can come here and make a fast buck you will find that you face huge opposition from the local population . . . and from the British Government.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown added: “We are determined that the levels of investment that take place in Cadbury in the United Kingdom are maintained and we are determined that, at a time when people are worried about their jobs, that jobs in Cadbury can be secure.”

However, Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and chief executive of Kraft, has dismissed suggestions of widespread job cuts.

At the time of Kraft’s first bid in September, it said a takeover of Cadbury would secure UK jobs, while keeping open Cadbury’s Somerdale factory, which is currently scheduled to close.

Kraft also said the deal would invest in Cadbury’s plant in Bournville.

However, in 1993, Kraft bought British chocolate company Terry’s and closed its York factory just two years later.

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