By Marcus Leach

Unite has accused ministers of ‘dragging their feet’ over a ‘Cadbury Law’ to protect British firms from predatory takeovers.

Unite was commenting as the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) select committee was due to grill top Kraft executives on Tuesday — a year on from Kraft’s controversial takeover of the profitable chocolate company, Cadbury.

The furore caused by the takeover tactics, which Unite said put short-term profits for financial institutions ahead of the long term interests of the company, its products and its workforce, prompted calls for a ‘Cadbury Law’.

Such legislation would protect viable British concerns from being at the mercy of predatory tactics by investors only interested in quick financial returns.

”Since last year’s takeover, the government has been very silent on the need for a Cadbury Law which would protect viable British companies from predatory takeovers from financial institutions which have no real interest in the long-term welfare of the company, its employees and product development,” Unite’s national officer for food and drink, Jennie Formby, said.

”If the government is really serious about having a vibrant manufacturing policy to help us out of the economic mire, a Cadbury Law should be an integral part of such a strategy — but ministers appear to be dragging their feet.

Business secretary Vince Cable — having had his teeth drawn over the BSkyB fiasco — now needs to prove he has a political future and enact a Cadbury Law very quickly.

”The fact that Kraft’s chief executive Irene Rosenfeld has refused to appear before the BIS select committee shows the arrogance of international capitalism and does not bode well for British companies fighting off greedy and speculative bids in future.

”Kraft’s refusal to give any more than a two-year guarantee over no compulsory redundancies or site closures is another area of serious concern.

”We hope the BIS select committee will use the opportunity they have (on Tuesday) to quiz Kraft’s senior executives on their longer-term plans for the manufacturing sites in the UK and Ireland — and the many thousands of workers whose jobs depend on them.

”The need for a Cadbury Law is overwhelming, imperative and urgent.”