The Mail on Sunday
Cadbury staff given pay freeze ultimatum
CADBURY employees have been told by the company’s new American owners that their pay will be frozen for three years unless they agree to opt out of the firm’s finalsalary pension scheme.
Kraft Foods, which bought the 200-year-old chocolate maker for £11.6billion after a bitter takeover battle, has told 3,500 of its UK workers that their pension arrangements are unaffordable.
Kraft cannot close the finalsalary scheme because of a clause in the Cadbury pension trust deed that it discovered after the buy-up. Instead, it has told members they must either leave it voluntarily or accept a pay freeze until 2013.
After winning the battle for Cadbury, Kraft chairman and chief executive Irene Rosenfeld was awarded a £17.2 million pay and bonus rise in recognition of her ‘commitment to financial discipline’. She also benefited from a £3million increase in the value of her pension.
Unions have accused Kraft bosses of breaking promises by shutting a Cadbury plant near Bristol and transferring production to Poland.
Critics of the takeover, which was finalised in January, have said a British company with such a proud history of independence should never have been allowed to fall into the clutches of an American corporation.
Felicity Loudon, greatgranddaughter of George Cadbury, who built up the firm, said her ancestors would be ‘turning in their graves’ if they knew Cadbury was being bought by a group that ‘makes cheese to go on hamburgers’.
Cadbury closed its finalsalary pension scheme to new members in 2001, but more than half of its 6,000 UK employees remain in it.
A Kraft spokesman said: ‘Cadbury had already started discussing changes it needed to make to its pension scheme last year.
‘We remain committed to providing attractive pension arrangements for employees over the long term but they have to be affordable and sustainable.’