Cadbury workers from across the UK and Ireland have launched a united bid to stop the hostile £10.1 billion Kraft takeover in its tracks and keep the world-famous chocolate maker British.
Employees and their supporters gathered at the Cadbury Club in Bournville to throw down the gauntlet to Kraft as the fight to save the UK firm from the clutches of the US giant went into overdrive.
Today’s public show of strength came as workers, unions, MPs and members of the public joined together to block the long-running attempt by Kraft to swallow the UK confectioner.
Workers from the UK and Dublin joined other protesters at the Cadbury Club to voice their concerns at the takeover bid amid fears of major job losses and pay cuts if Kraft succeed.
Meanwhile, Kraft today hit back at the Dairy Milk maker’s bid defence by claiming that a merger of the two firms would deliver more value than “Cadbury could achieve on its own.”
The US group said it stood by its deal as the January 5 deadline for shareholder acceptance draws near. Its boss Irene Rosenfeld said: “We have heard nothing from Cadbury that surprises us. Cadbury’s defence document only reinforces our belief that there is a compelling strategic and financial rationale to combining these two companies and that doing so would be in the best interest of both companies’ shareholders.”
Joe Clarke, Unite regional industrial officer, said ahead of today’s demonstration at Bournville: “This will be a big launch involving workers, unions, members of the public, councillors, MPs and others. There will be speeches giving people the background to this and outlining our concerns about Kraft.
“Kraft took over Terry’s (in York) and within three years closed it. They took over a cheese company in Menorca and closed that down.
“They are borrowing money in the first instance to fund this bid, which is of great concern. Cadbury made £262 million at their last recorded profits. They are doing very well – they are not in debt as such.
“Kraft have got 14 manufacturing sites in Europe – they might want to streamline things and move production abroad.
“There has been substantial investment in the last 18 months in Bournville. It is concerning, with Kraft coming in, are they going to continue with that level of investment?”
Unite members were today unveiling a petition to Keep Cadbury Independent and highlighting publicity material warning shareholders they would be ‘Fruit and Nutty’ to sell Cadbury.
Workers were being joined for the demonstration by some of the favourites from the chocolate-maker’s famed product range, including giant Creme Eggs, plus bars of Fruit and Nut and Dairy Milk.
The petition and all materials will be hosted on a dedicated website www.welovecadbury.com.
Unite and the workers will also be taking the Keep Cadbury Independent campaign to Parliament tomorrow to alert MPs and ministers to their concerns.