'Cadbury law' delay angers union

The Government was today accused of "dragging its feet" on a so-called Cadbury Law to protect British firms from predatory takeovers in the wake of the controversial sale of the chocolate giant to US firm Kraft Foods.

Unite said the Government had been "silent" on the need for legislation since the multi billion pound sale last year.

Kraft officials will be questioned by MPs on the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee tomorrow amid fears of fresh job losses.

Unite said the sale had put short-term profits for financial institutions ahead of the long term interests of the company, its products and its workforce, prompting calls for a Cadbury Law.

The union said such legislation would protect viable British concerns from being at the mercy of "predatory tactics" by investors only interested in quick financial returns.

National officer Jennie Formby said: "Since last year's takeover, the Government has been very silent on the need for a Cadbury Law which would protect viable British companies from predatory takeovers from financial institutions which have no real interest in the long-term welfare of the company, its employees and product development.

"If the Government is really serious about having a vibrant manufacturing policy to help us out of the economic mire, a Cadbury Law should be an integral part of such a strategy, but ministers appear to be dragging their feet."

Unite said the fact that Kraft's chief executive Irene Rosenfeld had decided not to appear before the select committee for the second time showed the "arrogance of international capitalism", adding: "Kraft's refusal to give any more than a two year guarantee over no compulsory redundancies or site closures is another area of serious concern.

"We hope the select committee will use the opportunity they have to quiz Kraft's senior executives on their longer-term plans for the manufacturing sites in the UK and Ireland, and the many thousands of workers whose jobs depend on them.

"The need for a Cadbury Law is overwhelming, imperative and urgent."

Kraft executive vice-president Marc Firestone and two other executives - Trevor Bond, president of markets, Kraft Foods Europe, and Nick Bunker, president of Kraft Foods, UK and Ireland - are expected to be questioned by MPs about the firm's decision to move much of its business to Switzerland.

Mr Firestone was grilled by MPs last year after Kraft reneged on a pledge to keep open Cadbury's factory in Somerdale, near Bristol, leading to the loss of 400 jobs.