LAST TUESDAY saw the announcement that Cadbury – described by many as a ‘British institution’ – could by taken over by the American multinational, Kraft Foods.
Kraft have tabled a £11.9bn offer for the confectionery firm. The US firm only needs the support of 50% of Cadbury's shareholders to win control. And investors have until 2 February to decide whether to accept.
The takeover looks inevitable as Kraft’s only rival bidder, Hershey, withdrew. This’ll mean that Cadbury will join an ever-growing list of UK-based companies to be bought up by foreign owners. For instance, ICI is Dutch-owned, Land Rover and Jaguar is Indian-owned and Alliance and Leicester is Spanish-owned.
Thousands of workers in the UK and Ireland depend on Cadbury for their livelihoods. Many of them face an uncertain future as Kraft plans a $675 million cost-saving plan. The proposed deal has already raised fears of job cuts at major sites like Bournville, Birmingham and Somerdale, near Bristol.
Already the signs are not promising. Cadbury chairman Roger Carr has admitted that job cuts at the 186-year-old chocolate maker are an "inevitability". He felt that there would be redundancies at the company's head office in Uxbridge, West London. Kraft have also said that the takeover had the potential to bring "substantial further cost savings".
This take over is frustrating for workers as they wait for investors – who only have their own interests at heart – to decide what to do with their money.
This big money take-over of Cadbury also illustrates what is wrong with the whole capitalist system. It doesn’t matter if it’s ‘national’ capitalists, ‘international’ capitalists or state capitalists – in the guise of communism – who run a particular company. The result is always the same - the workers have no real sense of ownership of that company.
This sense of ‘belonging’ will only come about when owners work and workers own. And this will only come when Britain’s large scale companies and factories are run as co-operatives or on national syndicalist lines.