200 workers to take voluntary redundancy at Cadbury plant

The Bournville Cadbury site.
The Bournville Cadbury site.

Cadbury owner Mondelez International has reached an agreement with unions over plans to invest £75m into the firm’s historic Bournville manufacturing site and make 200 job cuts.

The company announced last year that it planned to install the new facilities but had warned that labour reductions were likely because the modern machinery would mean more efficient production methods.

Around 200 workers are expected to accept voluntary redundancy terms – some with payouts totalling more than £100,000 depending on their length of service. More than 900 people currently work at the factory.

US food giant Kraft bought Cadbury in 2010 for £11.5bn, before renaming its global snack division two years later – to mostly negative responses in the UK. Reports have shown that Cadbury staff had been very positive about the changes and many of those who have accepted the redundancy packages are nearing retirement age and have welcomed the severance terms.

The company said the main union, Unite, had also been very supportive during the negotiations and this had resulted in a smooth transition.

Union representative, Joe Clarke, said many of those choosing to leave Cadbury were likely to be over-55 and would get a healthy redundancy package.

“People staying will be taking on extra skills and getting 2% pay increase on top of an annual pay award,” he added.

“The individuals that wish to remain employed will be able to do so because the threat of compulsory redundancy has been removed. It’s a good deal from our members’ point of view.

“We have a really good, loyal workforce and there’s a good relationship established between the management and the union. I was always concerned after the Kraft takeover but we are in the fifth year of that deal now and to be getting all of this equipment, which enables us to compete effectively, means I am far more relaxed about the site’s future than I have been for a long time.”

The company has said the improvements to facilities at the Bournville site are needed because of a competitiveness gap with rival European confectioners.

Mondelez said its plan was to invest in four new state-of-the-art production lines which would reinforce Bournville’s position as a centre of chocolate manufacture.

It will also modernise and improve the production of popular lines such as Cadbury’s Roses and Heroes – the first significant new investment in assortments manufacturing for 30 years.

The investment will be delivered in a series of stages during the next three years.

There will be two new lines for chocolate bar production with space to grow further, replacing existing out-of-date lines, as well as new training and skills programmes will also be implemented.

Mondelez said the new investment built on an initial £33m investment announced in 2011, and on a range of existing initiatives to cut costs and improve competitiveness.

Neil Chapman, manufacturing director Chocolate UK, Mondelez International, said in 2014: “Bournville has a proud manufacturing heritage and we are committed to ensuring it continues and becomes a world class manufacturing site. This investment would secure the site’s future for the next generation.

“The competitiveness gap we have identified means we are already missing out on important opportunities to grow. Through our consultation, we want to hear as many ideas as possible from our employees on how, alongside our £75m investment, we achieve improvements that boost competitiveness, thereby securing the next generation of manufacturing at Bournville.”

The site currently manufactures products including Dairy Milk, Creme Eggs and Wispas.