Blog: Wal-Mart under attack again
Catherine Sleep | 9 August 2006
Wal-Mart is an easy target for campaigning groups eager to improve working conditions for low-paid employees. It’s a massive international company, it has a huge workforce and it can be a tremendous force for good.
But an increasingly vocal lobby would have us believe it’s exactly the opposite. Two stories in today’s news cover opposition to its plans. One concerns its salary structure, the other its expansion strategy.
This weekend I finally got around to watching the 2005 movie Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. I was hoping for a balanced commentary on the methods the company adopted to become the world’s largest retailer, but instead I got an emotive, one-sided corporate assassination. Yes, it is sad, very sad indeed, to see longstanding independent businesses shut down as Wal-Mart steamrolls into town. It is equally heartrending to hear ex-employees relate how tough they found their dealings with the company, but professional journalism dictates that both sides of any dispute are put forward.
The emotional handling of scenes showing the treatment of Wal-Mart workers in China could also have used some context, as could the whole chunk concerning anti-union activities.
What undermined the film further was the blatant way in which videos of CEO Lee Scott giving a pep talk at the company jamboree were edited in such a way as to make him look a bit of a plonker, frankly. The film omits some of the big questions as well: why has Wal-Mart stayed the course if it’s such a Bad Thing? Who shops there? Why does it gain so much state assistance to build new stores?
I can’t help thinking the acclaimed director Robert Greenwald could have done better. But maybe I’m being overly critical because I’m a food journalist familiar with the issues. Have you seen it? What did you think?
A year after union officials alleged Fyffes abused workers on plantations in Central America - and called on the produce giant to be kicked out of the Ethical Trading Initiative forum - the company is...
Much of the chatter about where 3G Capital could look next has centred on packaged food - but might the private-equity fund be about to extend its foodservice empire?...
Headlines that Mead Johnson's board has backed Reckitt Benckiser's takeover bid will no doubt overshadow the other news on the group this week – that it is facing a US lawsuit from a “whistle blower” ...
Kantar Worldpanel issued its monthly supermarket share data in the UK this morning - and the numbers showed a change in the identity of the country's top five food retailers....
- US food next wave on display at Winter Fancy Food
- Does Kraft Heinz want to swallow Unilever whole?
- Focus: Nestle CEO plan to balance sales, earnings
- Comment: Meal kits in US - don't believe the hype
- Wessanen eyes growth in "resurgent" organic market
- Kraft Heinz pulls Unilever bid
- Unilever launches operational review
- Kerry operating earnings strengthen on slow sales
- General Mills issues profit warning
- Glanbia focuses on nutrition with Irish dairy spin