David Prosser: An empty promise to employees
Wednesday 20 January 2010
Outlook As for the political interventions in the Cadbury/Kraft saga, at best they look naive and at worst positively dishonest. When Lord Mandelson piped up last month, insisting he wouldn't allow foreign companies to move into Britain looking for "a fast buck", he knew full well his comments would be seized upon by those hoping to keep Cadbury British. He also must have known there was nothing he could do to prevent Kraft buying Cadbury – his comments were made with marginal seats in mind.
Similarly, Gordon Brown's pledge yesterday to ensure "the levels of investment that take place in Cadbury in the United Kingdom are maintained" was meaningless, as the PM must have realised. Once Kraft owns Cadbury, it will be free to sack every single UK employee if it so wishes, as long as it follows British employment laws. Should it choose to do so – and I'm not suggesting it will – Mr Brown would be powerless to prevent the job losses.
Don't take my word for it – look what happened last week in South Wales, where the German company Bosch announced 900 redundancies at a car parts plant, despite pleas from local and national politicians to keep the factory open. Or think back to the Vauxhall saga, when the UK business's future hovered in the balance as US parent company GM was forced to restructure.
Nor should Britain's politicians have the right to interfere. If the British government began intervening in such decisions, no foreign company would want to operate here and the impact on unemployment would be far greater.
Mr Brown no doubt feels he must offer reassurance to those worried about the future of Cadbury. But the truth is that he is no position to do so.
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