Nuts! Whole hazel nuts!
Roger Carr, the Chairman of Cadbury’s, has admitted that job cuts and redundancies are ‘an inevitability’ following the American firm Kraft’s takeover of this, highly British, business institution. ‘Nothing wrong with that’ I hear you say, ‘takeovers are happening all the time and, indeed, Britain itself is involved in the economic existence of other nations and owns companies abroad’. Well, that’s true, but just let’s examine what might really be at stake here and what is about to be lost.
Cadbury’s, as we all know, was founded by a family who followed the Quaker credo. George Cadbury, the founder, was a ‘classic Victorian philanthropist’ who wanted to create an enterprise in which the individual worker was valued and prized. So, the venture spawned one of the first Garden Suburbs at Bournville (still a gracious and very human place to live, like Port Sunlight and New Earswick in York). Here, the factory workers enjoyed unprecedented space and light in their homes and a standard of living that was unparallelled at the time. Sharing in the profit making business in this way involved them all in its future prosperity: they became empowered and engaged, and therefore, presumably, happier and more fulfilled. Over the years, this ethos has been continued, and present day workers speak poignantly about the business: ‘it represented something big, British and powerful’ and, of its sale, ‘this is the saddest day of the decade’. As we speak, local people in Bournville fear for the loss of the village fete, youth and sporting activities, the swimming pool and park: just some of the local infrastructure supported by the Company.
And what’s sad about it? What’s sad is that, once again, a high moral and ethical ideal in the conduct of big business has been sacrificed for the naked profit of a group of individuals. What’s ironic about it? What’s ironic is that Cadbury’s, because of its pursuit of ethical and moral modes of commerce, is a vastly more successful and profitable concern than Kraft. What’s worrying? What’s worrying is that all of this, in the present climate of the western world, can be justified openly and that there can be an frank admission that people will lose their jobs, their livelihoods and their way of life.
It’s nuts! And it’s one more example of how the moral compass may have been lost, and we are all the prey of globalised business, with no concern for local communities or people and a seeming default mandate to pursue profit for profit’s sake without having to worry about the effect it has having on real people in real communities.
It’s nuts, whole hazel nuts!