About 250 jobs are being cut at Cadbury’s factory in Birmingham alongside a £75m investment in new equipment that the company says will secure the future of Bournville.
About 50 people have already left and another 200 have agreed to take voluntary redundancy over the next two years, as part of a deal agreed with the Unite union. The workers are mostly in their mid to late 50s and will leave with average payoffs of £100,000, according to Unite. It hailed it as a historic deal that would secure the future of the Bournville factory for the next 25 years. It comes almost exactly five years after Kraft’s controversial takeover of Cadbury, which led to the closure of the Somerdale factory near Bristol in 2011.
Unite regional organiser Joe Clarke said: “The company has agreed to no compulsory redundancies, nobody will be forced out of the door.”
The factory, which dates back to 1879, employs 900 to 950 people at present and makes Dairy Milk bars, Creme Eggs and Roses.
The news comes days after Cadbury’s American owner Kraft admitted it had switched the popular Creme Egg’s shell from dairy milk to a “standard cocoa mix” and downsized packs from six eggs to five, causing a storm among consumers.
Kraft’s Mondelēz division is pumping £75m into Bournville to replace six outdated production lines with four new lines. It costs twice as much to make chocolate bars there as in Germany, a spokeswoman pointed out.
She said: “We have been clear that to secure the £75m investment and therefore the next generation of manufacturing at Bournville, we will need to become cost competitive. During consultation, we agreed that this would mean fewer people working in Bournville in the future than there are today.”
Those that remain will re-train so they can work on two production lines rather than just one, for example. Some will get 2% pay rises once they have learned new skills, on top of the annual pay awards, Unite said. It is still negotiating pay rises for other employees.
By Julia Kollewe