Cadbury's memo shows factory closure is not needed, says union

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The Independent Online

Pressure on Cadbury Schweppes not to close its Keynsham factory has increased after Unite, the UK's largest trade union, published an internal memo showing that huge sales growth in October meant that the shutdown was unnecessary.

Cadbury plans to shut the factory, significantly restructure its Bournville plant and cut thousands of jobs in order to slash costs by moving production to Poland.

Unite said that the company was "pandering to shareholder greed" and that the sales data proved that the move was ill-advised.

The memo, sent on 2 November and attributed to Tom Bond, who heads Cadbury's confectionery operations in Great Britain and Ireland, boasts of a 15 per cent rise in sales in October, driven by a 19 per cent increase in chocolate sales. Mr Bond goes on to describe the sales growth as "nothing short of staggering", and accuses Cadbury's rivals of under-performing. He goes on to discuss the success of the company's latest marketing campaign, which features a gorilla playing drums to the Phil Collins song "In the Air Tonight".

Brian Revell, Unite's national organiser for food and agriculture, said the Cadbury email was "dynamite which blows apart the planned closure of the Keynsham factory. This memo reinforces our belief that Cadbury is acting like a private equity company and pandering to shareholder greed.

"There is no case to close Keynsham to move to Poland. It is wrong on business and environmental grounds," said Mr Revell. "The Polish unions don't agree with it. The workforce don't agree with it; neither do the local communities."

Union leaders met the company last week, but continue to oppose the closure of the Keynsham plant.

Mr Revell said the board had "clearly taken a knee-jerk decision after the failure of the Schweppes sale, based on inadequate information and poor advice.

"Cadbury directors are sacking half their workforce on a wing and a prayer," he said. "There has been no convincing case put forward based on how the products will change in taste by being made in Poland, nor has there been a proper environmental assessment of the millions of food miles which willbe added to Cadburyproducts."

He added: "Shareholders should be questioning the board, not pocketing money at the expense of a skilled, productive and loyal staff."