With Easter just around the corner, Dunedin people will experience a stab of grief and perhaps anger when they buy their chocolate fix this year, if comments across social media and letters from my constituents are anything to go by.
Before you decide whether or not to choose Cadbury, remember nearly 400 jobs are in the balance for the next year. These people need incomes and some certainty, even if it’s short term.
They also deserve all stops pulled out by city leaders and influencers to try to keep chocolate manufacturing in our city.
There has been outrage at the possibility of ratepayer money being awarded to Cadbury to help hold the annual Chocolate Carnival.
This is understandable and it is hard to stomach the thought that popular tourist stop Cadbury World will remain operational, despite the closure of the factory. Another view is that any jobs and any operation left behind is better than nothing, as multinational Mondelez exits town.
This Saturday’s rally in the Octagon at 11am will be the first opportunity for Dunedin people to express their opposition to the planned closure of the Cadbury factory, with the loss of nearly 400 jobs. The rally is being organised by the Save Cadbury Community Action Group, comprising concerned locals who want to save the factory.
There’s been a disappointing lack of answers from Mondelez after a recent meeting with representatives and community stakeholders convened by Mayor Dave Cull.
The union representing the Cadbury workers has also expressed dismay, and E tu has launched an online petition calling for the factory to remain open. About 8000 people have signed already.
The impact on our economy is likely to be significant. School enrolments, regional immigration and house prices can all be affected by large employment changes. Comments from the Prime Minister and Economic Minister only served to show the extent to which the regions are left to fend for themselves.
Labour’s 2016 Future of Work commission clearly showed our job market is changing, and that government needs to be an effective driver for change by offering education and retraining. Labour is proving its commitment to regional development through initiatives like the Centre of Digital Excellence in Dunedin.
Cadbury has been operating at the heart of the Dunedin community for more than 80 years. I reckon it’s possible to keep some production in our city.
Let’s have a big turnout on Saturday and to show Mondelez our city backs the Cadbury workers.