Cadbury strikers resisting race to the bottom as parent company makes 2 billion profits


Our solidarity to Cadburys workers who today begin an indefinite strike at the Coolock plant against the outsourcing of jobs.  The company is trying to destroy 17 properly paid and pensionable jobs to replace them with minimum wage ones.

The outsourcing is seen as part of a pattern where the management from Mondelez International have been downgrading the plant, its believed they have no  long-term commitment to the facility something confirmed by the company threat that “this action ultimately endangers the jobs of the circa 700 people who are employed within the business”.  Right now in Chicago workers are resisting similar attacks by Mondelez International at an Oreo cookies plant where they want to lay off half the 1200 workers and move production to Mexico where workers are paid a lot less.

Like the LUAS strike the background to this strike is also an attempt to resist the massive shift over the last two decades that has seen the share of profits going to owners rise massively and that to workers falling.  This is reflected in the management statement, if dressed up by the PR department as “under intense pressures from international competition” and  “with the aim of streamlining it to become more sustainable and competitive for the future.”  Both these are coded terms translating into a demand for a bigger share of the profits going to shareholders - this trend is why 62 people now own half the wealth in the word. 

Mondelez International had revenue of 33.2 billion dollars in 2014 and made profits of 2.18 billion in that year.  It was formally known as Kraft and as Kraft in 2012 it gave almost 2 million dollars to the US based "Coalition Against The Costly Food Labeling Proposition" which was set up to oppose a proposed law requiring GMO containing foods to be labelled as such in California.  In 2015 the US Commodity and Futures Commission said Mondelez Global had made 5.4 million dollars through alleged price fixing on the global wheat market.  Alexia Howard,according to the Wall Street Journal "a closely-followed food and beverage analyst at Bernstein" forecast last year that Mondelez  should be able to increase its profit rate from 12 to 18%

The media prevent the mechanisms of this shift in the share of profits whether it be outsourcing to low wage areas or a refusal of wage rises as some sort of inevitable natural law that workers have to accept in a race to the bottom. The intention is to make workers in different countries compete to accept wage cuts and worsening conditions.  In this case the Labour Court followed the same pro boss logic but by 302 to 20 the workers in SIPTU and UNITE have voted to reject the Labour Court finding.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, John Dunne, said: “Union members voted overwhelmingly to take this action following an announcement by management that it intends to unilaterally implement a Labour Court recommendation and outsource the jobs of 17 directly employed store workers. The work stoppage at the plant will continue until management ends the attempt to outsource these jobs.

“The Labour Court recommendation had previously been rejected by a large majority of the 350 union members employed in the production plant. SIPTU and UNITE members proposed further talks on reducing costs and increasing flexibility in relation to the operation of the store facility at the plant. This proposal was rejected outright by management leaving the workers with no option but to take the industrial action that will begin tomorrow morning.”

Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Richie Browne reiterated the unions’ call for the company to withdraw its plans to outsource key roles and instead to discuss the proposals put forward by the unions.

“Unite and SIPTU have made a number of proposals to management regarding alternative ways in which efficiencies could be delivered.  Even at this late stage, we remain available for meaningful engagement with the company to discuss these proposals.

SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, Gerry McCormack, said: “The attempt to outsource these jobs is seen as a further erosion of the viability of the facility. It follows the movement of the production of the ‘Time Out’ bar from this plant to Poland.

“Workers at the plant have over recent years agreed to the major restructuring of operations and changes in work practices. However, the attempt by the management of Mondelez International to further downgrade the plant’s operations has caused outrage and increased fears among the workforce about its long-term commitment to the facility.”

After a decade of defeats and low expectations its long passed time when workers need to act in solidarity not only to defeat these sort of profit grabs by the bosses but also fighting to expand our share, as the LUAS workers are doing.  The boss owned media have done a very good job of setting us against each other instead.  That needs to end.

WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )

Partial list of sources for the above piece

Mondelez Shareholders Could Win Big if Company Cuts Costs

Kraft accused of wheat price fixing

Oreo bakers union, Mondelez halt negotiations

Resolution of Cadbury’s dispute in company’s hands as Unite members prepare to down tools tomorrow

SIPTU and UNITE members to begin strike in Mondelez Ireland tomorrow