A sweet deal? | Cadbury workers secure big pay rise to aid cost of living

Cadbury workers secure big pay rise to aid cost of living

Cadbury workers have been given a pay rise worth 17.5% as well as a boost in holiday pay after the confectionery giant agreed a deal with union bosses.

Unite members at Cadbury’s sites in Bournville, Birmingham, Chirk, Wales and Marlebrook in Hereford recorded an 80% vote in favour of the deal, which over two years, inclusive of bonuses, is worth up to 17.5% to the workers. A 25% rise in holiday pay was also negotiated.

Unite General Secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Where employers can clearly afford to raise pay, we are determined to ensure that they do. Yet again Unite’s focus on improving jobs, pay and conditions is getting results for our members.

“This deal was delivered by the hard work and dedication of Unite’s representatives at Cadbury and the support of Unite members.”

Unite National Officer for food and drink, Joe Clarke, said: “Unite negotiated this deal over three months with Cadbury and it sets the standard for the rest of the food manufacturing sector, which is performing very strongly.

“Unite will be negotiating with other food manufacturing companies in the coming months and we will be bargaining for our members in those workplaces to also receive rises that take into consideration the rising cost of living and high profits of their employers.”

A Spokesperson for Mondelez International, which owns the Cadbury brand, said: “We are pleased to have reached a two-year agreement with Unite for our UK chocolate manufacturing colleagues.

“This agreement represents an improved overall package including not only base pay but other elements which enable us to both recognise our colleagues’ important contributions but also remain competitive in our manufacturing operations.”

Are pay rises the best solution to combat the cost-of-living crisis?

Cadbury joins a growing list of firms stepping up financial support for their workers amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. Many major firms, including supermarkets Asda, Tesco and Morrisons are among the firms to have upped pay in recent weeks, partly in a bid to keep hold of staff who might otherwise be lured to competitors offering higher wages.

Barclays also recently announced a £1,200 pay rise for its 35,000 UK employees. However, some firms’ attempts to help their staff with growing costs have not been successful.

Unionised workers at engine maker Rolls-Royce recently rejected an offer which would have seen staff receive a one-off £2,000 bonus. Bosses at Unite the union said the move fell "far short of the real cost of living challenges which our members are experiencing".

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It could therefore be a good idea for HR leaders at other firms – who might be thinking of offering more money as a solution to employees’ current issues – to think outside the box.

And of course, there are many businesses that, no matter how much they want to, simply can’t afford to offer their staff higher pay or bonuses.

In fact, a recent study from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that 48% of UK firms had no immediate plans to offer salary raises.

What are the alternatives?

Many firms are quickly throwing money at the problem, but a recent survey found a significant number of workers would prioritise a strong benefits package over a higher salary.

Research published in 2022 from global life insurance provider MetLife found that one in two employees would sacrifice more of their basic salary to get a personalised employee benefits package.

The research was conducted as part of MetLife’s Re:Me report, which looks at how the pandemic has shifted attitudes in the workplace. Among its findings was the discovery that 69% of employers said they’d work harder for an employer who provided benefits that were tailored to their individual needs.

And they’re not looking for “soft” perks like gym membership or employee discounts (many of which, in any case, became obsolete during lockdown and the peak of the pandemic). Income protection was the 13th most desired benefit prior to the pandemic; MetLife’s research discovered that it now stands at 3rd, with a further 58% of employees stating that they’d like their benefits package to cover all their dependents, including their spouse.

There are also other steps that employers can take to help employees make their money go further. Below, Towergate Health & Protection suggested:

Salary sacrifice

Offering a salary sacrifice scheme enables employees to maximise their pre-tax income. Employees can pay a comparatively reduced price on things like childcare costs, commuting to and from work, and even their pension. If an employee is close to the higher rate income tax band, a voluntary increase in their monthly pension contribution could help them to stay within the 20% basic rate tax band.

Expert guidance

Expert guidance is often more easily, and freely, available than people realise. In fact, it may already be provided as a cost-free add-on to other health and wellbeing support. Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) often form part of the offering within other employee benefits, such as group risk benefits, and can provide confidential advice to employees on a number of concerns, including money worries.

Employee discounts

Employee discount schemes can help employees’ money to go further. Cashback cards can be made available for everything from the weekly grocery shop to clothes, DIY items, and days out. These come at a variety of costs, depending on the offer, or are sometimes even free to encourage store loyalty. Some employee discount schemes also provide access to a free credit-checking service, and money advice lines, to help employees to keep on top of their finances.

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