Therefore, it was quiet a shock to visit Cadbury's World last week and not find any reference, bar a few pictures stuck on the wall, that the bar had gone fairtrade. This was, to be honest, rather odd. Through a fantastic set of interactive videos, the story of the ethical, Quaker founded, Cadbury company seemed to end slightly too early.
Unfortunatly, it could all end slightly too early. Another set of people taking a peek around the factory were journalists. With notebook and cameras, they were getting the low-down on what impact the proposed take-over bid from Kraft could have.
Therefore I thought it wise to return to an age old piramid cartoon. For, through the movements of craft, I am convinced one of the problems of capitlism - well the shareholder part - is clearly illustrated. Kraft discussed with the board what they thought of the plan. The board of Cadbury's said 'thanks but no thanks'.
Now, I would think at this point Kraft should take no as an answer. Afterall, that is what Children are taught - no means no.Instead Kraft launched a hostile takeover bid. This operates, not in the companies interest, but in the interest of the shareholder. Ie the company aiming to do the hostile takeover opens up its wallet and waves money at the shareholder and says 'dare you overule the current management'. Certainly, this grows even more worrying, because reports have begun to circulate that the Fairtrade status of the bar could be under threat should the deal go through.
So, to return to the pyramid. Popular around the time of the Russian revolution, it outlines the way the richest percentage of any population rely upon the poorest to prop up the system. When shareholders are given dream amounts of money it is as though the top of the pyramid leans down to the bottom and begs them to move. However, as the Building Society debacles of the last decade illustrated, if you go away from a more co-operative approach to purely chasing profit the future isn't bright - it is the potential for absolute disaster.
Cadbury's are a fascinating orgainsation. Somehow they try to mix ethics with being one of the biggest confectionery companies in the world. Many people didn't realise they striving for ethics - yet that is being highlighted as the biggest issue that challenges the merger talks. Almost, it appears management have realised ethics behind the machine and wish to defend it. Will the shareholders wish to defend it?