Wal-mart, Australian workplace reform and a great new documentary

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This movie has just been released in the US. It does not have a release date here in Australia yet. I bought my copy through amazon.com.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started watching this film. I was wary of some recent movies in this big corporation attack genre recently which have occasionally allowed emotion to get in the way of facts. Documentaries attacking any business cannot afford to get a single fact wrong for doing so taints the whole project.

While I have yet to see any response from Wal-mart, this film presents its information through the voices of ‘witnesses’ in such a way that the likelihood of truth is very high. And that’s what makes this film so depressing. Wal-mart is not good for many of its employees, the consumers it sells to and the overseas areas where its low paid manufacturing work force is sourced. It’s health, security and tax track records seem to be appalling – against the backdrop of stellar profits.

The film finishes on a bright note documenting the success of many communities fighting plans by Wal-mart to enter their town. It reminded of the protests recently at Maleny against Big W coming to town and the protests by pharmacists trying to stop Woolworths getting pharmacies in their supermarkets.

I’d suggest that watching WAL*MART the high cost of low price is essential for anyone who owns or works in an independent retailer or any small business for that matter. Despite the depressing data presented, the film is a call to action to individuals and communities across the country to be socially responsible and stop the pursuit of size and profits at all costs. It gave me hope.

Watching this film should be mandatory for all federal parliamentarians as they consider the workplace reform changes. They have to decide whether they want Wal-mart work practices here.

Besides the giant Coles and Woolworths corporations, in Australia there is another corporation acting in some ways in a Wal-mart like manner is the government owned Australia Post. They are sourcing more product in China and at what cost to employees there? They have a retail development strategy which hurts independently owned retailers. They enter a space already well catered for and take business under the umbrella of their government protected brand – leveraging an unfair advantage.

Category: Small business

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