Article first published as Wal-Mart and Globalisation on Blogcritics.
It is once again proved that the globalisation is only for MNCs and TNCs but not for workers. The justice systems are increasingly coming forward in defence of interests of the big business houses. The case of gender discrimination in Wal-Mart retail sales firm brought to light that the gender discrimination is not an exception for exploitation and for maximisation of the profits.
The case pertains to the women, who sued Wal-Mart Company for paying women less than men’s pay and for promoting women less frequently. MSNBC news wrote, “the company said the women should not be allowed to join together in the lawsuit because each outlet operates as an independent business. Since it doesn’t have a companywide policy of discrimination, Wal-Mart argued that women alleging gender bias should file individual lawsuits against individual stores.”
Does Wal-Mart mean it has no centralised business administrative body? Does it mean it maintains separate ownerships for each shop? Does it mean decision-making not done at central level but at lowest level? Not at all, Wal-Mart implements uniform rules in all shops around the world. It maintains centralized accounts. It does not give reports of profits, turnover and bonuses for each shop. Yet, it chose to appeal in court claiming, “women should not be allowed to join together in the lawsuit because each outlet operates as an independent business.”
It can exploit gender disparity, prevalent in the present patriarchal societies spread in almost all countries in the world to increase its profits. When it comes to earnings, it is a global firm that pressurises governments across the world to open up retail business sector. However, when it comes to paying to workers and when it comes to facing a lawsuit, it wants to treat the company in pieces. In addition, even the justice system tends to defend business interests rather than workers interests. Isn’t it true that the whole world has become a global village as a result of implementation of globalisation policies?
It seems Wal-Mart is ready to admit temporarily, until the lawsuit settlement, that the globalisation policies are framed to favour the companies but not the workers.
Globalisation, nowadays, has become a catchword to every person on this globe. The policies associated with the term have spread rapidly around the world with the establishment of WTO, as a culmination of the GATT agreement. It has brought unprecedented business opportunities to MNCs, TNCs, cartels or conglomerates around the world. It has paved the way for the formation of even more larger companies through ever more number of Mergers and Acquisitions. It has paved the way to open wide the gates of economic systems across the third world countries in favour of multinational and transnational companies.
It was preached that globalisation was equally beneficial to workers also. It was told that the globalisation would provide unprecedented job opportunities for the workers irrespective of their nationalities, races and religions. It was said that workers could move from anywhere to anywhere in the world in search of jobs and there would be no national boundaries that would restrict the movements of workers or any type of employees. People were convinced that workers had nothing to lose.
However, what we witness in practice is quite different. Globalisation in its true sense was realised for the big businesses, manufacturing companies and financial conglomerates. The public sector units were sold at cheaper costs to the private companies, either domestic or international. The banking and non-banking financial firms operating in the public sector of the third world countries were disinvested paving the way for the flood of private investments. Disinvestment policies spread throughout the third world countries like a mania.
Ironically, what was promised to workers has not yet been realised. Moreover, the opposite is happening. The workers’ movement has been restricted more than before the establishment of the WTO. Australia tightened the visa policy for Indian students using the sporadic racial attacks on Indian students as pretext. The UK government recently decided to reduce drastically the visa issuance to immigrants. In Germany, many government officials and politicians including the Chancellor Angela Merkel openly came forward expressing concerns over rise of immigrants. Angela said a month back that the multikulti had failed. The US increased visa fee payable by the Indian students and job seekers to limit their number. Obama openly opposed outsourcing even though it is beneficial mainly to the American companies.
Globalisation has two meanings for companies like Wal-Mart. One is for it and the other is against workers’ interests.