Cadbury bidder Kraft Foods has hit back at criticism from the Unite union that its prospective takeover would hamper Cadbury.
Workers have been protesting against the US firm’s bid at the Cadbury Club in Bournville amid fears of major job losses and pay cuts if Kraft succeed.
But a spokesman for Kraft defended the firm’s record and said it would invest in Bournville and seek to ensure British manufacturing continued.
He said: “We are surprised at Unite. We have said all along that we will invest in British manufacturing jobs and we want to keep talking.
“We are by far the best partner for Cadbury. Combining these companies will help both grow. Our chocolate business is already Europe’s second biggest and our biggest chocolate brand, Milka, a $1 billion brand, has grown and eight per cent per year since 2000. “We offer the best prospects for British manufacturing jobs. A combined company would be better for factory workers than Cadbury standing alone or being broken up by others.
“As well as investing in Bournville, we want to keep the Somerdale plant open - which Cadbury plan to close.”
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.
The 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.
Unite members have unveiled a petition to Keep Cadbury Independent and highlighting publicity material warning shareholders they would be ‘Fruit and Nutty’ to sell Cadbury, and will take to Parliament with that message on Wednesday.
But the Kraft spokesman added: “Across Europe, our major chocolate brands are made in their home markets, because it makes sense to do so.
“Britain is important to us. We’ve been here for more than 85 years. We have great brands like Kenco, Philadelphia and Toblerone and employ 1,500 people. We are proud of our record as a great place to work, our sustainability initiatives and our community programmes.
“We are a disciplined buyer. Financing is not an issue. We have an investment-grade credit rating and will maintain it even if we buy Cadbury so we will be able to deliver our plans for Cadbury.”