Cadbury gags employees

Last Thursday, The US-based owner of Cadbury’s – Mondelez international – announced it will close its factory in Dunedin in 2018.

More than 360 staff face an uncertain future. At least 200 of them will lose their jobs before the end of this year under the plan unveiled last Thursday.

But their voices were missing from most of the stories about it.

Staff leaving the announcement told reporters they couldn’t make any comment. They had been given information packs which included cards which said all media inquiries should be referred to the corporate affairs division of Mondelez.

If you speak out, you are out of a job right now.  If you keep your mouth shut, you have a chance of finding a new job during the year before you get pushed out the backdoor on the last day.

So were they gagged by the company – or not?

Mediawatch contacted Mondelez International in Melbourne to clarify its policy, and that was not a simple matter:

We received this initial reply from a spokesperson in Melbourne who did not want to be named:  

“There has been no media ban implemented in response to yesterday’s proposal announcement. Our existing media policy which applies to all Mondelēz International employees, remains in place.”

But what exactly is its long-standing policy? And what would happen if employees talked to the press?

“If employees are contacted by media on any topic, they should refer them to Corporate Affairs.”

If employees do give comment of their own bat – what then?

“As with all of our other policies, we would consider any breaches on a case-by-case basis.”

So would that mean mean an employee in Dunedin who is asked to comment on the closure by a reporter  would have to ask Mondelez international’s corporate affairs division for permission to make a comment? A comment which would certainly be scrutinised by corporate affairs later on?

A Mondelez International spokesperson then declined to be interviewed  – and would only say:

“We’re comfortable with our comment and don’t have anything more to add”

Under this policy, any Cadbury’s worker with something to add about the closure of a factory after 80 years in business will feel anything but comfortable if they’re hoping to hold on to a job there  – or negotiate a redundancy deal.

Pretty standard operating practice really.   Not that saying anything to the media will make any difference.

I’m not one for calling for bans and boycotts.  But I do feel that Cadbury no longer deserves my support as a customer, as little as it was to start with.  They were happy to take taxpayers’ dollars from the Helen Clark government to ensure they wouldn’t shut the factory down.

Appears the goodwill on that has lapsed.   As has mine.

 

– RNZ

 


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