The union representing the majority of 362 Dunedin Cadbury staff set to lose their jobs by the start of 2018 has called for the public not to boycott Cadbury's chocolate.
In what was a shock for not only the 362 Cadbury's staff but also the wider Dunedin community, US multinational Mondelez International announced on Thursday the closure of the profitable Dunedin plant, preferring to manufacture in Australia.
Union E tu's industry co-ordinator Chas Muir said the factory closure was not just a poor economic decision but would "do huge harm to this brand, wherever the chocolate is produced".
He says, however, the workers want the public to continue to support local production, because that would secure their jobs until the factory closed, he said.
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"Our union's position is we don't support boycotts if they threaten jobs," Muir said.
While the union and workers would fight the closure proposal, Muir urged the public to continue to post their support for staff on social media and other channels and lobby their MPs and political parties.
The union's stance comes after a Dunedin dairy owner vowed to boycott Cadbury products and called on other New Zealanders to do the same.
Brunch 'N' Lunch owner Errol White said if enough businesses and consumers followed his lead, Mondelez might begin to regret its decision.
"We've got Whittaker's chocolate, which is made in New Zealand. Why don't we just stick to selling their [product]?" he said.
"I've taken all my Cadbury's stuff out and that's it, I'm not going to buy it any more."
He had spoken to other Dunedin business owners who were considering removing Cadbury products from their shelves.