Sweet firm workers left bitter by honour

Cadbury workers will be "surprised and disappointed" by the knighthood awarded to the businessman who sold the British chocolate-maker to US food giant Kraft, a union said today.

Roger Carr, 64, who is also chairman of British Gas owner Centrica, was recognised in the New Year Honours List for services to business after a year in which he presided over a huge increase in profits and a customer price rises at British Gas as well as the hotly disputed takeover of Cadbury.

Trade union Unite said Sir Roger did not deserve an award after allowing the "iconic" confectionery firm to be sold to Kraft with resulting job losses.

Jennie Formby, the union's national officer for food and drink, said: "Under his leadership he allowed this iconic British company to be taken over by Kraft, a highly leveraged company that has already cut hundreds of jobs since taking over in February and which will undoubtedly be looking for further cuts to help pay down their huge debts.

"But whilst these long-serving men and women were collecting their P45s, Roger Carr was off to pastures new with his golden handshake burning a hole in his pocket, his initial principled opposition to the sale having disappeared as soon as the price was right.

"It is our members, the workers of Cadbury, whose hard work and decades of loyalty should be receiving recognition and honours. Roger Carr certainly does not deserve any awards."

Sir Roger, who became Cadbury chairman in 2008, at first tried to fend off Kraft's attempts to buy the chocolate-maker by dismissing its "derisory" opening offer. But when the American conglomerate improved its bid by more than 1 billion he said it represented good value for investors.

The leading businessman also came under fire after British Gas put up its prices for customers by 7 per cent this month despite Centrica being forecast to double its profits in 2010.