Cadbury: Fight for every job

Join the rally in the Octagon tomorrow at 11am, and spread the word. This protest, called by the Save Cadbury Community Action Group, is supported by E Tū, the union of Cadbury workers.

Amanda Banfield, Vice President for Mondelez in Australasia, claims closing Cadbury in Dunedin is about ‘its long term sustainability’. Try telling that to the over 350 workers threatened with losing their job. What ‘long term sustainability’ for them?

Cadbury’s closing would be devastating for Dunedin’s workers. The factory is one of the city’s largest employers, and another closure would be yet another blow against workers who are already finding secure jobs hard to come by. 90 jobs went when Hillside was closed in 2012; 430 when Fisher & Paykel closed its Mosgiel plant and 138 when the Burnside meatworks were shut in 2008…Cadbury’s can’t be next.

And it doesn’t have to be. “We are going to fight” – that’s the message factory worker Donna Bouma gave to media last month, and it’s a message that has resonated across the country. Cadbury doesn’t have to close. And workers’ action can keep it open.

This is about politics and priorities as much as economics. The business is running a tidy profit – $9m on a revenue of $291m, according to 2015 figures – and Banfield herself says the plant is not losing money.

But the company values increasing its profits, and finding ‘efficiencies’, over workers’ livelihoods. They can be forced to think another way, but only if we unite in a show of strength.

Demonstrations, petitions and public rallies are a good start, but they need to spark industrial action – workers speaking out, agitating, organizing and, eventually, striking, can make this proposal so costly for Cadbury/Mondelez that they’re forced to rethink, and to negotiate.

We’ll only get there, however, if we are prepared to struggle. And that means being prepared to strike at that ‘long term sustainability’. Working-class Dunedin cannot afford another big closure, and we cannot afford to negotiate the terms of the closure. This is a fight that can be won. The International Socialists say:

No cuts! No closure! No compromise!

This is why we have to rely on our own strength as workers in solidarity with E Tū workers at Cadbury taking the lead – and why we can’t look to local bosses for help. There’s been a lot of talk around about ‘the community’, but local business leaders accept the logic Mondelez is using to justify this cut. With hundreds of Dunedin people out of work, bosses all over the city will be playing hardball in wage negotiations. They are not reliable allies.

We need instead to look to workers’ solidarity – in our unions, on demonstrations, and preparing for a fight to keep Cadbury’s open.

Fight for every job!