Cadbury workers seek job assurances after Kraft takeover

WORKERS at the Cadbury plant in Rathmore, Co Kerry, still do not know if the takeover of the company by US food giant Kraft will affect their jobs.

Last year, SIPTU agreed to rationalisation proposals resulting in the loss of 28 jobs in Rathmore. The plant now has a workforce of around 80.

Cadbury Ireland Ltd employs almost 1,600 people, including 1,100 at its plant in Coolock, Dublin, and the remainder at plants in Tallaght, west Dublin, and Rathmore.

Chocolate crumb, a basic ingredient of Cadbury’s internationally known chocolate bars, is produced in Rathmore and SIPTU official Andrew McCarthy was yesterday hopeful the €13.6 billion takeover could benefit the Kerry operation.

“Nobody has yet given us any indication whether the takeover will make a difference to the Rathmore plant,” he said.

“It may very well present opportunities, because Kraft are already in the chocolate business and a very high quality brand of crumb is manufactured in Rathmore, ” he said.

Kerry South Fine Gael TD Tom Sheahan has called on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to meet top management at Kraft Foods with a view to getting assurances about the future of all Cadbury jobs in Ireland.

Members of the SIPTU and UNITE trade unions at Cadbury’s Coolock plant also sought assurances about their jobs.

The SIPTU and UNITE trade unions, which each represent 350 workers at the Coolock plant, called on Cadbury’s management in Dublin to seek immediate assurances from the new owners about the future of the Irish operations.

In a joint statement, the unions said they intend to play a pro-active role in ensuring that jobs and the hard-won conditions of employment were protected in the wake of the takeover. Under a ‘comprehensive change agreement’ at Coolock, in December, the unions secured the promise of a €20 million investment programme on foot of acceptance of the agreement.

“The unions are seeking assurance on the investment promised to secure the future of the Coolock operation,” the statement said.

Popular chocolate brands, including Dairy Milk, Flake and Twirl, are produced in the Coolock. The plant there opened in the 1960s.

The Rathmore plant, which is supplied with milk by farmers in Cork and Kerry, has been in production since the late 1940s and once employed upwards of 400 people.

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