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The dubious honour of being the first rubbish company of Trinity Term falls to WALMART (or, probably most relevantly in England ASDA-WALMART, since ASDA was bought up by Walmart in 1999).

Walmart is the largest company in the world, and as such is in a unique position of power. It seems that it has absolutely no scruples about abusing that power as and when it can – particularly in its dealings with suppliers in developing countries, where it seems the norm is to develop a mutually exclusive contract with a single supplier of a particular product – so tying that supplier into complete dependency on Walmart – but the deal is often on no more firm ground than a verbal contract, so Walmart can pull out any time it chooses.

And when it comes to conditions in Walmart’s factories across the world, it’s not much better. Accusations of the use of sweatshop labour are rife, but Walmart seems to be doing very little to improve its act. According to the US National Labor Committee, Walmart ‘is actually lowering standards in China, [quite the achievement, you’ll have to agree] slashing wages and benefits, imposing long mandatory overtime shifts, and tolerating the arbitrary firing of workers who even dare to discuss factory conditions’

ASDA has some interesting theories on what makes its employees happy. According to David Smith, head of ASDA’s human resources, ‘We have a sense that people in the Asda family live the values. That's what makes the business go. Life is much more than what people get paid. It's what does the boss think of me? What do my colleagues think of me?' ….life is about so much more than what people get paid, eh? Isn’t that nice? But at £4.62 an hour initially, rising to £5.06 after 12 weeks (£3.82, rising to £4.18 if under 18), and no workers’ union, (according to the WALMART company guidebook, 'Wal-Mart is anti unionization’…you do have to give them some credit for honesty…) your boss and colleagues had better be worth it…

Finally, (though believe me there’s plenty more where this all came from, http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/profiles/asda/asda5.htm ), in 2000, WALMART CANADA was found to be buying goods from Burma. Yes, Burma, the military dictatorship where child and slave labour is widespread.

Posted on 09/05/05 by admin

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