The Unite union is leading protests against the takeover of Cadbury by US giant Kraft. Top of the list of concerns is jobs: Cadbury employs more than 45,000 people worldwide, 6,200 of them in Britain, according to the union. Already, workers at Cadbury’s Marlbrook factory, near Leominster, have brought their fight to protect their jobs and their company’s independence into the heart of their community, getting signatures on a union petition outside a local supermarket.
“If Kraft or any other bidder swoops for Cadbury, the consequences could be devastating not just for the workers, their families and the communities, but for Cadbury itself. We want to keep Cadbury in the UK, producing products we all love - not swallowed up as a trophy for some far-off boardroom,” said Unite official Jennie Formby.
Kraft, meanwhile, has sacked 10,000 workers across the world in the past 10 years following takeovers. The fear is that with Kraft raising its bid by £2 billion in borrowed money – on top of several billion more in loans to put together the original bid – the workforce will be slashed to service the debt.
The union points out that the leading credit agency Standard & Poor’s has downgraded Kraft's corporate credit rating from “A” in 2007 to its current status of “BBB”, two levels above junk bond status, reflecting its concerns that Kraft is not managing its portfolio well. That will make interest payments higher, and put even more pressure on staffing.