Monday 18 February 2019

'Anger, shock' as more than 220 jobs cut at Cadbury

Staff at the Cadburys plant in Coolock where job cuts were announced. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Staff at the Cadburys plant in Coolock where job cuts were announced. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Employee Alan O'Donnell from Coolock at the Cadburys plant in Coolock where job cuts were announced. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Mark O'Regan

MORE than 220 job losses as part of a major restructuring in Cadbury's Irish operations has been described as a "complete shock".

The redundancies will take place in Dublin and Kerry.

Among the plants affected is the Cadbury factory in Coolock - for decades one of the employment icons on the city's northside.

Staff were briefed by management from Mondelez Ireland, which owns chocolate-maker Cadbury and chewing gum brand Trident.

The company said it planned to close its chewing gum production plant in Tallaght, Dublin, which would result in the loss of 45 jobs.

An additional 17 contracted roles would also be affected.

It is also expected there will be 160 redundancies in its chocolate manufacturing plants in Dublin and Kerry.

These will be mainly from the Coolock factory and in the production unit based in the village of Rathmore.

A Siptu spokesman described the announcement of the job losses as "a complete shock".

The union has also alleged the company intends to move some of its chocolate production facility from Dublin to Poland in the near future.

Changing consumer patterns means that Cadbury's iconic pink Snack bars, and its equally well-known Time Out bars, may no longer be produced.

Mondelez Ireland said its Dublin facility would now concentrate on four of its key Cadbury brands.

This would involve an investment of €11.7m to upgrade existing technologies and production processes.

The workforce will be reduced as part of an overall efficiency programme being implemented by the company.

Mondelez plans to set up a series of consultation meetings with staff and their union representatives.

Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power described the job losses as "a massive blow to Coolock and the surrounding area", which is already blighted by high unemployment.

She pointed out that generations of local people had worked in the Cadbury plant, and the consequences would be devastating for the local community.

She also said employees needed to know how long Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has known about the proposed redundancies, and what steps he had taken to try and persuade the company to change its mind.

"It there's a ribbon to be cut there's no shortage of ministers to do so, but when there's hard work to be done in saving existing jobs, they're found wanting," she said.

She said the minister should make a "last-ditch"' attempt to try to save these jobs. If this fails a special task force should be established to create alternative employment.



As the first trickle of Cadbury's employees trundled out of work shortly after 5pm, their ashen-faced expressions said it all.

There was a tangible pall of despondency as the workers trooped into the spring sunshine.

Every family from Coolock 'knows somebody who knows somebody' who has worked in the northside Dublin plant over the past three decades.

The factory complex has long been a centrepiece of community life in the region and surrounding areas, ever since it opened its doors in 1964.

For many of the families closely involved over the decades it has been more than just a place of work.

"It has such a history around here," said one clearly dispirited worker, convinced he is destined for the dole queue.

"These job losses are a bodyblow to the very fabric of life around here," he added.

News that 90 jobs are to be culled in the plant was delivered by management in a "no-nonsense manner", he said.

"They didn't mince their words and we were told straight out what was involved," he added.

While there were "mutterings" in recent weeks that "something was coming down the line", the sheer scale of the announcement took everyone by surprise.

Beyond the iron railings, at the edge of the factory, groups of workers stood in huddled silence.

Their shocked expressions told the story of the day.

And with production reportedly being transferred to Poland, some employees felt the announcement was a crude management tactic in a zealous "race to the bottom" to cut costs.

Others said it demonstrated a flagrant "disregard of dedication and hard work" shown by generations of workers.

"It's all about inflating their profits," said one worker, still clutching her hairnet after coming off the factory floor.

"We were told at a meeting earlier today that they want 90 people out.

"All that they care about is money - that's it," said another.

"There are lots of people in there who have young children. Others have been there over 30 years."

A number of long-term workers expressed concern that the Government is allowing the trend of outsourcing to escalate in various sectors of Irish industry.

"It is hard to reconcile these redundancies with the fact that our jobs will be shipped overseas," said another fatalistic employee.

But what appeared to rankle most - especially for those who have spent much of their working lives with the company - was a feeling that "years of loyal service" have counted for nought.

Alan O'Donnell, a father-of-three with over 13 years service, painted a grim picture of the consequences for the local community.

"It will affect the whole area of Coolock, because there are so many people with young families living a stone's throw from here. Putting it bluntly - too many lives are going to be destroyed by all of this. It's a game changer and the area will never be the same again."

Irish Independent

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