Friday, March 04, 2016

Time for an international strike

Cadbury's originally a home grown Quaker inspired UK owned chocolate maker taken over subsequently (following earlier mergers) by USA based Kraft International now called Mondelez International is currently involved in a strike by its workers in Ireland with a related strike in Chicago USA both seeking to fend off restructuring and potential closures. An indefinite strike by hundreds of workers at the Cadbury production plant in Coolock, Dublin began this morning in a dispute over the outsourcing of jobs. Cadbury plans to outsource 17 positions in its stores division as part of a Labour Court recommendation, which was rejected by Unite and SIPTU. Both unions now say they will strike until the company rescinds the decision to outsource. The owner of Cadbury, Mondelez International, has said the strike action will undermine its future viability as well as its operation in Rathmore, Co Kerry.

Mondelez International had revenue of 33.2 billion dollars in 2014 and made profits of 2.18 billion in that year.  It was formally known as Kraft and as Kraft in 2012 it gave almost 2 million dollars to the US based "Coalition Against The Costly Food Labeling Proposition" which was set up to oppose a proposed law requiring GMO containing foods to be labelled as such in California.  In 2015 the US Commodity and Futures Commission said Mondelez Global had made 5.4 million dollars through alleged price fixing on the global wheat market.  Alexia Howard,according to the Wall Street Journal "a closely-followed food and beverage analyst at Bernstein" forecast last year that Mondelez  should be able to increase its profit rate from 12 to 18%.

The media present the mechanisms of this shift in the share of profits whether it be outsourcing to low wage areas or a refusal of wage rises as some sort of inevitable natural law that workers have to accept in a race to the bottom. The intention is to make workers in different countries compete to accept wage cuts and worsening conditions.

In Chicago the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union characterized the company's proposal to replace the current pension plan as an "extremely risky and unreliable 'savings account.'" On Dec. 21, the union filed a grievance alleging that Mondelez has been filling jobs within the bargaining unit at the bakery with contracted nonunion workers. "The (union) has maintained that these actions by [Mondelez] are part of the plan to move production from Chicago to Mexico while weakening the union's bargaining unit and bargaining power prior to the move," according to the lawsuit. Mondelez projects it will save about $46 million a year by installing four production lines at the Mexico plant rather than making that investment at the Chicago plant.

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