Wednesday 28 September 2016

Cadbury chocolate factory grinds to halt over outsourcing row

Laura Larkin

Published 03/03/2016 | 10:28

Workers picket the entrance to Cadburys factory in Coolock
Workers picket the entrance to Cadburys factory in Coolock
Workers picket the entrance to Cadburys factory in Coolock
The Cadburys plant in Coolock

The Cadbury chocolate factory in Coolock ground to a halt today as workers went on strike in a row over outsourcing.

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SIPTU and Unite members picketed the gate of the plant that employs around 350 and made in excess of 30,000 tonnes of Flake, Twirl, Boost and Chocolate squares last year.

As part of a restructuring proposal, Cadbury, which is now owned by the Swiss group Mondelez International, proposed the outsourcing of 17 jobs in its stores division.

A Labour Court recommendation on the issue, which included an offer by management to re-deploy the affected workers elsewhere in the plant and implement a 4pc pay rise over two years, was rejected by the two unions.

“The company has unilaterally implemented the outsourcing of the stores without agreement. They’ve signed a contract with a third party provider to effectively do our members’ jobs, so in that situation we felt the only option was to engage in an industrial dispute,” said Richie Browne, regional coordinating officer for Unite.

“It is true to say that the company said that anybody in the stores who was affected would be offered alternative employment back in the factory but our members felt it  was the thin end of the wedge and if the company could outsource the stores effectively they could outsource any position. That was the fear,” he added.

“There has been outsourcing in the past, of the canteen and security, but they weren’t seen as being core to production. The stores jobs looks after ingredients that goes into the chocolate making and they deliver it into the stores to the machines so it is part of the production process and the fear is if the stores are outsourced it’s the start of the production process being outsourced,” Mr Browne explained.

SIPTU and UNITE members previously proposed talks on reducing costs and increasing flexibility in relation to the operation of the stores at the factory.

“This proposal was rejected outright by management leaving the workers with no option but to take the industrial action that will begin tomorrow morning,” said John Dunne, SIPTU Sector Organiser.

Gerry McCormack, SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, says the attempt to outsource jobs is being seen as a ‘further erosion’ of the plant’s viability, following the movement of the production of Time Out bars to Poland.

A spokeswoman for  Mondelez said the company regrets that Siptu and Unite has taken the step to strike.

“We are facing intense pressures from international competition and any form of industrial action only undermines the future viability of the entire site,” she added.

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