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Cadbury's bosses opt for a sugary takeover
The 'patriotism' of Cadbury's bosses melted away after US company Kraft Food made a mouth-watering £11.9 million bid for the confectionary manufacturer.
Clive Walder and Simon Carter
Ironically, as government MPs tut-tutted about the takeover of a 'venerable British institution', it was revealed that one of Kraft's financial backers is none other than the state-owned RBS bank.
The heavily leveraged takeover will inevitably result in a wholesale 'restructuring' of Cadbury ie massive job cuts, as the new owners attempt to shed its estimated £22 billion debt mountain.
'Patriotism', as the board of Cadbury has shown, is clearly 'the last refuge of the scoundrel'. So why then did the leaders of the trade unions act in an unholy alliance with Cadbury's bosses to try and stop the takeover?
Before Christmas the unions (mainly Unite) held demonstrations outside the factory complete with Union Jack flags opposing any American takeover and declaring that they wanted the company to stay in British hands.
While a union-led campaign to save workers' jobs is essential, for the unions to encourage this slavish nationalism is very dangerous. British capitalists exist to maximise their own income as do those that have targeted Cadbury's from abroad.
The union leaders also sowed illusions in that capitalist representative, Lord Mandelson's ability to keep the company in British hands.
Not surprisingly the New Labour government has once again bowed to the god of private capital. Gordon Brown's announcement that he will do all he can to keep jobs in Britain is meaningless, unless he enacts special measures, as he has no power under existing legislation to intervene over the bid unless it's a strategic industry.
There is no guarantee that a British company would be any 'nicer' to Cadbury workers and the twin pronged approach of the unions in sowing illusions in British ownership and the New Labour government has failed on both counts.
Unite instead should have been calling for the nationalisation of Cadbury's under democratic workers' control and management to safeguard the jobs and challenge Labour's pro-big business policies.
In The Socialist 27 January 2010:
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