Cadbury workers threaten strike action over pay dispute

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cadbury, Strike action, Trade union

Workers at Cadbury are preparing to ballot on industrial action following a pay dispute that sparked protests last week.

A consultative ballot on strike action is planned for 18 to 28 July, according to Pauline Doyle, a spokesperson for the trade union Unite.

The threat of strikes comes after some 30 workers from Cadbury factories protested against what they claim is a broken wage promise at a company event at Sheridan Skyline Hotel, in Heathrow.

Dispute over pay deal

Unite says the workers had been promised a deal of Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 0.5 per cent, but with a minimum of two per cent in 2009.

The union claims that Cadbury broke this promise by then imposing a 0.5 per cent increase for the year. RPI was at 0 per cent in February, satisfying the RPI plus 0.5 per cent promise, but the figure is well below the promised 2 per cent increase for 2009.

However, Cadbury vehemently denies the accusation. Spokesperson Tony Bilsborough said: “Cadbury has followed the wage agreement to the letter.”

Specifically, Cadbury refutes the claim that, in the original deal struck three years ago, it had promised a minimum increase of 2 per cent for 2009.

Financial backdrop

Since the original deal was struck, the economic situation has deteriorated. Cadbury said in a statement: “We feel that, given the very low rate of inflation, our pay increase which was agreed in 2007 is very fair in the current economic climate.”

However, Cadbury has been relatively well insulated from the recession. Recently, the chocolate company confirmed its guidance of 4 to 6 per cent revenue growth for the full year 2009, but it said the final figure is likely to be at the lower end of the estimate.

Commenting on the latest pay offer and financial backdrop, Jennie Formby, Unite national officer said: “Cadbury’s managers and shareholders are getting fat on the profits generated by this loyal workforce but while chocolate sales and Cadbury directors’ salaries appear to be recession proof, workers’ wages are melting away.”

“This broken promise on fair pay is simply not acceptable,”​ added Formby. “Workers know that this move is nothing to do with cutting costs during tough times and everything to do with an employer cynically taking advantage of a recession to attack workers’ pay”

Related topics: Manufacturers, Mondeléz International

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