Labour Relations

Intermediate level

The Cadburys were pioneers in employee welfare and labour relations, setting standards which other enlightened employers adopted. George Cadbury believed that if each man has his own home, a garden to cultivate and peaceful surroundings then there was a better opportunity for a long healthy happy life for him and his family, and in providing his workforce with these benefits he believed this would boost the moral of workforce to the benefit of both the company and the individual.

Cadbury Brothers was the first firm to introduce the Saturday half-day holiday, and also pioneered in closing the factory on bank holidays.

In 1918, Cadbury Brothers established democratically elected Works Councils, one for men and one for women. Departments elected representatives to these Councils by secret ballot. The Councils dealt with working conditions, health, safety, education, training, and the social life of the workers. Conditions and benefits were superior to those workers generally knew in the Victorian era.

Young employees were encouraged to attend night school and were allowed to leave work an hour early twice a week.

When the Bournville factory opened in 1879, it featured heated dressing rooms, kitchens for heating food, gardens, and extensive sports fields.

Management negotiated special workers’ fares with the railway company.

The Cadburys even provided swimming pools for employees.

The Cadburys established medical and dental departments for their employees.

In 1901 George Cadbury purchased the Daily News and used it to campaign for old age pensions and against sweated labour. He paid £60,000 into a pension fund for his own workers to make sure his own employees were looked after in retirement.

Pre-reading discussion

If George Cadbury was an employer who cared about the conditions of the workers at the factory, what things do you think he might have done to provide good working conditions 100 years ago? If possible, work with a partner or small group and compile a list.

What benefits might a reasonable employer provide today?

Reading activity

Compare / contrast you list with the provisions made by George Cadbury.

What provisions are made by many employers today?

Look at examples of job adverts. Check on the benefits. If possible, prepare a letter asking for further details. Design a job advertisement for a post with Cadbury’s and include the benefits available.