The union said there was a “growing resentment” among Cadbury workers who had been denied bonuses for working through the coronavirus pandemic that had been paid to US and EU staff employed by the chocolate-maker’s parent company Mondelēz.
It said it would be consulting with more than 1,200 members at Cadbury sites in Bourneville near Birmingham, Chirk in Wales and Marlbrook in Hereford, over how to respond to the issue.
However, Mondelez has revealed that US and certain European countries have different social protection systems and the local labour laws are very different.
It added that pay across the company was a country-driven matter. In countries where it had made discretionary payments, this was a reflection of the additional tasks and responsibilities staff had been given, such as training large numbers of temporary workers or adopting more flexible work patterns, argued the company.
A Mondelēz International spokesperson said the company has been “incredibly grateful” for the hard work and commitment of its staff over the past three months. It said its number one priority throughout had been the health, safety and well-being of its staff, which had included emotional and well-being support, implementing health screenings, temperature checks, social distancing measures and making face masks available at all factories
“We have also helped colleagues by offering greater flexibility to support their personal needs – for example paid emergency leave, accommodating shift-swapping and flexing of work patterns, as well full pay for those who are shielding themselves or have family members who are required to shield,” the spokesperson said.
“We are therefore disappointed with Unite’s comments as they fail to reflect all we are doing to recognise and support our people during this time.
“We’re continuing to discuss with union representatives so we can try and resolve any issues as soon as possible, in the best interests of all our colleagues.”
Unite national officer Joe Clarke said: “There is growing resentment amongst Cadbury staff that Mondelēz workers in the US, France, Belgium and Spain have been given bonuses while their hard work is yet to be recognised. This is particularly galling given Cadbury’s strong performance during the crisis, which has been achieved through the hard work of our members.”