Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/517/3668
Cadburys close Keynsham factory
The Cadbury bosses have behaved utterly predictably in deciding at the end of a 90-day "consultation" process, to press ahead with the complete closure of their historic Keynsham site near Bristol.
Despite marches and lobbies, sympathetic words from industry ministers and an outpouring of opposition from the entire local community, the lure of higher profits through taking production abroad has proved too tempting for these rapacious capitalists.
So 500 more workers are to join the dole queue as the company eyes a cheaper labour force in Poland. Yet as one Polish worker commented online to the Bristol Evening Post, "...the situation is changing in Poland and soon enough it will be impossible to pay £300 per month to your employees and then the factory will be moved east again, to Ukraine..."
The union Unite now faces the moment of truth in Keynsham. Its call for a nationwide Cadburys chocolate boycott may stir the emotions temporarily but cannot be sustained and does not offer a real way forward for the workforce.
Armed with overwhelming mandates for industrial action, the union must now prepare to turn the tables by calling on all plants in the combine to prepare for strike action.
Of course Cadburys is greedy; of course the company is displaying hypocrisy through committing itself to bringing down its carbon footprint while manufacturing Dairy Milk, Turkish Delight and Crunchie bars in Poland and then flying them back to Britain.
But this is the reality of modern capitalism at work, red in tooth and claw, determined to drive wages down, bully workers into submission and in the process, humiliate those union leaders who plea for understanding and partnership. Gordon Brown declares that government cannot interfere in business, while in reality introducing policies that make it ever easier for bosses to 'do a Cadburys' and vandalise our communities.
One of the main lessons from this debacle is that there's nothing to be gained for trade unionists from trying to hang on to New Labour's coat-tails any longer. Brown and his ilk support Cadburys' brutal logic. Their policies are designed to free business from high labour costs and union interference.
Unite should terminate this abusive relationship and throw its full industrial and political weight behind defending all those who will face the Cadbury treatment during 2008 and beyond. Integral to this is to lay the plans for the building of a new workers' party that stands up for people like the Keynsham 500 and not the Cadburys multi-millionaires.
In The Socialist 23 January 2008:
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party campaign news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news