Mondelez squeezes Ireland - closure, layoffs, casualization
Mondelez on February 26 announced the elimination of 222 of its 900 manufacturing jobs in Ireland. The gum-based plant in Tallaght (south Dublin) will close with the loss of 45 permanent and 17 outsourced positions. A further 160 jobs will be eliminated from chocolate and confectionery production in Coolock (south Dublin) and Rathmore. TimeOut production from Coolock will move to Poland.
Unite Ireland regional officer Richie Browne said the unexpected announcement had left workers "shocked and angry". SIPTU Organiser Colm Casserly said "The announcement that the company is seeking such large-scale redundancies has come as a complete shock to the workforces and their respective communities. Employees at both plants have given sterling service to the company over the years. The bombshell of this announcement when coupled with the news that production is being transferred from the Coolock facility to Poland has turned shock to anger."
The closure and job cuts were framed in the language of 'sustainability' and building a stronger business. Justin Cook of Mondelez Ireland told the food industry website just-food that Mondeolez was "proud to support Irish farmers".
What about workers - and jobs - as Mondelez moves towards its announced goal of ramping up margins by 33% over the next few years? CEO Rosenfeld is no longer touting steady revenue growth, the mantra of previous years; the emphasis is on cost-cutting and maintaining prices to boost margins. ("We will continue to prioritize margin improvements while delivering modest revenue growth", she told investors in the company's most recent conference call.) And as Crain's Chicago Business recently noted: 'Here's another reason: Nelson Peltz, the activist investor who owns 47.2 million Mondelez shares, or 2.86 percent of the total, making him the fourth-largest shareholder. Before joining Mondelez's board, he loudly criticized the company's subpar profit margins. "Nelson Peltz started pushing them, and all of a sudden it became a margin-growth story," says analyst Brian Yarbrough of Edward Jones. Peltz hasn't said much publicly lately, but Rosenfeld's actions reflect his influence. She is cutting costs, shedding less-profitable product lines and boosting prices where necessary to offset higher costs. The savings, naturally, are plowed into share buybacks-about $2 billion worth in 2014, with similar amounts expected this year.'
The unions at Mondelez Ireland - SIPTU, Unite and TEEU - will be in talks with the company, and have put out a joint statement on the jobs losses pointing out that 'An integral part of this programme is the move from permanent employees to the use of contract labour. It is also proposed to reconfigure the shift patterns in Coolock under the guise of realignment of plant and people. This will also lead to a significant loss of earnings. This is the third Change Programme in Nine years which has seen the loss of over 600 permanent jobs to date. The reason given for these Programmes is to secure jobs. Whose jobs? Certainly not the employees in Ireland who are facing another loss of 200 good jobs and a move to contract labour with no security. This should come as no surprise to anybody who has been following Kraft/Mondelez and their worldwide drive to switch production to low cost economies to replace permanent jobs with low paid unsecured contract jobs. All this alongside their widely publicised claims to bring "JOY" to the community. Not much joy to the communities in Tunisia, Egypt, Pakistan and many more countries where workers have to fight on a daily basis for basic rights like job security , union recognition and an end to the practice of disposable jobs.'