LONDON - British and Irish workers at Cadbury Plc will launch a major campaign on Tuesday to fend off a hostile bid from Kraft Foods Inc and so avoid job losses and pay cuts at the confectionery maker.
Britain's largest trade union Unite said on Thursday it was organising the demonstration in Cadbury's home city of Birmingham the day after top executives publish an official defence document to fight off the bid from the American giant.
Cadbury workers from the UK and Dublin will join together to resist the Kraft bid, which they say will saddle Cadbury with enormous debt and involve job losses and pay cuts to meet its massive borrowing needs for the bid.
The Keep Cadbury Independent campaign will be launched at midday on Dec. 15, with support from local members of parliament, at Cadbury's historic Bournville home in Britain's second city, which houses the group's main British chocolate factory.
Cadbury is a great UK success story -- and it was and is not for sale. But suddenly a hostile bid and swarming speculators has thrown its future, its investment plans and jobs of thousands of workers here and in Ireland up in the air, Unite's assistant general secretary Len McCluskey said in a statement.
The union will also urge Cadbury shareholders to reject the bid, citing Kraft's poor record in takeovers and falling share value, and concerns that investment decisions will be taken outside the UK. It will take the campaign to Parliament in London on the following day, Dec. 16.
Kraft posted its cash and share offer to Cadbury shareholders last Friday. The bid is currently worth 724p, while Cadbury's share price is 8.5 percent higher at 785-1/2p. Shareholders have until Feb. 2 to decide whether to accept it. (Reporting by David Jones, editing by Will Waterman)