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Wal-Mart and Globalisation

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It has once again been proven that  globalisation is only for MNCs and TNCs but not for workers. The justice systems are increasingly ruling in defence of the interests of the big business houses. The recent case of gender discrimination at Wal-Mart  brought to light that  gender discrimination is not an exception for exploitation and for maximisation of the profits.

The case pertains to  women, who sued Wal-Mart  for paying women less than men and for promoting women less frequently. MSNBC 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.”Walmart

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 is not done at a central level but at the lowest level? Not at all. Wal-Mart implements uniform rules in all of its stores 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  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, maybe 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 has been preached that globalisation is  beneficial to workers. It has been claimed that  globalisation would provide unprecedented job opportunities for  workers irrespective of their nationalities, races and religions. It has been 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. 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.

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About Sekhar

  • Doug Hunter

    Walmart has no centralized process for discrimination, I can assure you there is no official policy in that regards. In a company with 2 million employees I have no doubt there are cases where women have been unfairly passed over, and men, and gays, and the handicapped, and married, and straight, and people who wouldn’t have sex with their boss that is the nature of inviting 2 million people into a company to get bad apples. Now you feel all women working for Walmart should be a class likely because you have already determined in your mind that women are victims of, in your words, a “patriarchal” society. Is Walmart to blame for the state of the world?

    Let me ask you another question along the line. I see you were an engineering dropout, what percentage of your class consisted of women? Shouldn’t your university receive a class action lawsuit for it’s behavior of not accepting or promoting anough female engineers?

  • Hi Doug,

    Whether you accept it or not, the society we are living is patriarchal society. It is not my discovery. If you come across the subject “sociology”, it deals with social development of the society. It deals with relations between various social groups, disparities among them, how those disparities evolved to the present form etc… It is a well acknowledged fact. The problem is whether we know it or nor. Is Your problem with the word “Patriarchal” or Wal-Mart?

    It is also true that these social disparities are exploited for economic gains. Be it Wal-Mart or any sort of business or production system including agriculture, male-female disparities are fully exploited. It is not the case of a single firm or country. As I wrote in the article it is prevalent in almost all countries in some or other form. It is an universal problem. It is acknowledged by sociologists and economists. Unless we have basic knowledge in social evolution of the human society, we cannot understand discriminatory issues.

    As a gender, women are a class. As the case pertains to gender-discrimination, women are supposed to act as a class. I cannot understand why it is a problem for you. Women are saying they are less paid and less promoted. So, they will automatically act in unison. Wal-Mart wants to separate them because class action suit may result in higher cost of penalty.

    Wikileaks revealed that the US is using its diplomats for spying on prominent political and government people of the host countries. Does it mean that the US has an official policy of using diplomats for spying? US has no policy of discrimination between blacks and whites. But, discrimination is there. It is not the matter of policies for discriminations. It is a matter of how and to what extent our societies developed into accepting laws of equality. Though, governments have anti-discrimination laws, we have them because of certain reactionary forces in our societies.

    These business firms, who work only for profits, do not possess sensitivities of social discriminations. By observing gender-discrimination it is able to pay less to women. Since women have social obligations of reproduction of the humankind, they avail leaves more than men. That’s why they prefer men over women. Governments are encouraged and advised and even obligated by the UN to frame special laws for women to discourage gender-discrimination and to ensure equal opportunities for men and women.

    I wrote only about gender discrimination in a biggest retail sales company in the world which is supposed to observe human sensibilities but not to exploit discriminations for economic ends. I did not write about sexual perversions. Sorry!

  • Doug, I’ve ignored the second paragraph in your comment as it has no debatable point.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Doug’s wearing a pretty big pair of blinders, Sekhar. Best of luck.

  • Doug Hunter

    #3 No debate you can win at least.

    #4 Not really, I have a fairly open and creative mind. I’m alot more liable to come up with a real world analogy or experience than try an appeal on authority to my sociology professor. Sekhar wisely stayed away from my query as to whether or not his engineering school should be held liable for the dearth of female engineering candidates and you know what I didn’t learn that angle or argument in any sociology class, I didn’t have to, I just live life with my eyes open.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Doug, who exactly are you saving this “open and creative mind” for?

    Your query was nothing more than vile bait meant to duck the crux of his argument, yet your ceaselessly defensive “debate skills” requires that you spin it to mean something else entirely.

  • Doug Hunter

    Wow, you really are unprepared for any opposing argument. Please explain further why it’s “vile bait”?

    I’ve got to go pick up a child, so it may be awhile before I respond.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Doug, I haven’t skipped the entirety of Sekhar’s reply in #2 to cherry-pick at #3 and deliver a snarky remark pertaining to the supremacy of your “debate skills.” The notion that you’d be schooling me on preparedness is, as you might imagine, funny.

    The article is about globalization and Wal-Mart. You narrow it down to how many women Sekhar had in a class he took in an attempt to trap him in what you believe to me a contradiction.

  • Doug Hunter

    You’re right, I’m not interested in the sociology lesson I want to skip to the real substance of the issue… which in this case is forced outcomes through discrimination. No one wants to touch the engineering example because it demonstrates that equal opportunity does not necessarily result in statistically equal outcomes for groups. That fact should undermine much of the argument for the Walmart case… but it won’t.

    I’m a big proponent of meritocracy and equal opportunity, I’m against special treatment of any sort. I don’t think you fix discrimination with more discrimination. Knock down all the barriers you can find and I’ll be right behind you but when you start erecting barriers in front of someone else to even up the race that’s where you lose me. Sekhar’s #2 was heading dangerously in that direction.

  • Jordan Richardson

    You discard the sociology lesson at the peril of your so-called open mind, though. You should consider more of the options before you attempt to personalize, I think. Just some advice for the sake of, you know, creative thinking.

  • Jordan Richardson

    No one wants to touch the engineering example because it demonstrates that equal opportunity does not necessarily result in statistically equal outcomes for group

    I kind of think that most people see that as a given, but the goal of equal opportunity is in the opportunity not the possible outcomes. In giving EVERYONE, theoretically at least, the opportunity to be successful or even to live the “American Dream,” aren’t we doing a great deal of good in terms of the population?

    Or does the notion of giving everyone the same chance scare you off of your “drop me anywhere in America and I’ll make back all my money in short order” mission?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Actually, one of the “dangerous directions” Sekhar was headed in within his comment was that women should get paid the same as men and they currently don’t. Surely this is a barrier to equality you’d be willing to join us in tearing down?

  • #9 Hi Doug,

    I lost net connection and it is restored now.

    Who said equal opportunity should result in statistically equal outcomes? I believed women who were telling that they were less paid and less promoted. Wal-Mart is bringing pressures on third world governments such as India, to open up their retail sector under the guise of globalization. But it is not ready to pay equally to men and women. Gender discrimination is a sort of uncivilized manner.

    They propose globalization policies as the principles to be implemented in a civilized world, in the sense that those who oppose globalization are considered opposing civilization. I pointed out this contradiction. That, wal-Mart is interested in globalization linked civilization because it can extpand its business multi-fold, but not interested in gender-equality linked civilization because it loses the opportunity of paying less to women employees. Where did I bring statistical argument? Women employees’ claim is that women are not getting promoted where such occasion arises. They are not asking to promote all women irrespective of promotion rules.

    Where did I erect barriers? I cannot understand.

  • #11 and #12

    Hi Jordan,

    Yeah, It seems so.

  • Doug Hunter

    I can’t speak for Walmart’s practices in other countries, but I’ve never seen or heard of a different pay scale for women than men here or of any policy to do the same. Since it’s your claim that they do, perhaps you could link me to the relevant material? I’ll do a google search on my own to see what I find.

  • Doug Hunter

    Also, in general I don’t believe in treating anyone as a “class” as each individual experience is different. I have no doubt that some of Walmart’s 2 million+ employees suffered discrimination on a case by case basis, you can’t have a population that large and expect otherwise, but I don’t think that each and every person who shares the same demographics should be lumped onto their case. Take the cases where you have evidence of discrimination and sue the crap out of em.

  • Doug, not other countries but the US. And its not my claim. I provided link in the article itself. You should have noticed it when reading the article.

  • Doug Hunter

    Your article provided no mention or evidence of a company policy of discrimination which should warrant a class action. I feel certain the lead plaintiff has a sound case, I also feel certain it was an individual decision by her manager and not company policy that is to blame. I see no reason that 1.4 million other women should be tagging along. I think the 9th circuit is letting their sociology… ahem, training… overcome what is right or fair in this situation.

  • Doug, kindly refer 4th para of #2. If it has a policy of discrimination, the court’s job is easy to penalize the company.

    A para of the news item says:

    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.

    Please observe who responded on behalf of Wal-Mart. Not manager, but the company it self.

    The company fears that if the women were allowed to file a single lawsuit, there could be a flood of similar lawsuits and hence it is contending to treat the cases separately, considering each shop as a separate entity. That’s where I opposed Wal-Mart and supported women employees.

    Here, I believe what women are complaining. If someone believes they are lying he should produce supporting evidence. My article is based totally on my belief that what women were alleging was true. If they were lying the court would see to it.

    Let me request you to restrain yourself from ridiculing, which won’t help for healthy debate.

  • Doug Hunter

    “My article is based totally on my belief that what women were alleging was true”

    Yes, which is why I asked what evidence you had to convince you so. We all have our natural inclinations as to who we believe. I hold people innocent until proven guilty with evidence. I have seen no evidence of 1.4 million cases of discrimination, I believe the woman featured as the lead in the case probably suffered discrimination or the trial lawyers would not be risking so much money pursuing it.

    If I don’t think they got the issue of class action correct, what should make me confident these same courts will be any more sensible in their judgements of the merits of the case.

    Another issue to consider is this, if Walmart had actually discriminated against all these millions of women would they not want to settle one single case and be over with instead of getting sued individually?