Fisher and Paykel's decision to move its business offshore shows the true face of neo-liberal global capitalism - making money at anyone's expense. James Ayers comments.
Nothing demonstrates the conflicting interests of shareholders versus workers more the clearly the recent decision of Fisher and Paykel to close its Dunedin factory and shift production to Mexico. When its share price has its highest ever daily rise on the same day as 430 workers are told their loyal service means nothing, you see very clearly how the fortunes of owners and workers are often diametrically opposed.
To quote the F&P CEO John Bongard “…unless we can reduce the manufacturing costs, particularly labour, we will not be able to provide an adequate return to our shareholders”. Clearly $61m (last years profit) is not enough, but then again, when it comes to the greed of shareholders and their puppet directors and CEO, there is no such thing as enough!
Never mind that their factory in Dunedin was state of the art, or that they were an iconic Kiwi company with a tremendous amount of goodwill both within their Kiwi workforce and the many loyal customers around New Zealand. I am sure many people reading this will have grown up with F&P appliances in the house.
Oh, and if you think the price of their products will drop because of some supposed cost savings, think again. As the CEO said, it is about improved returns to shareholders, not better deals for customers. As for the workers, it's been nice knowing you; I'll send you a postcard from Acapulco!
It was probably less of a surprise that the ANZ National Bank announced 500 jobs would shift to Bangalore. The greed of the banking sector, and in particular the overseas owned cartel of ANZ National, Westpac, BNZ and ASB is infamous. In justifying this decision, the CEO Graham Hodges cites “the financial benefit of lower labour costs in India”. I suppose profits of over $1 billion per year (or many tens of thousands per ANZ employee) are once again not enough? Or is it to cover the ANZ’s shonky share lending activities across the ditch?
And what are the benefits of the plethora of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) currently being negotiated around the world. Three-fold.
Firstly reduced costs to manufacturers and importers so they can make more profits - don’t expect much of these increased profits to flow to workers.
Secondly the creation of even cheaper products we don’t need or necessary products that won’t last. After all, who of us in NZ is going to contact the Chinese manufacturer of a $10 toaster, which malfunctions one week after the warranty expires?
Thirdly and most worrying, FTAs will force consumers of fundamental products like food to pay the highest price because that is the world price, as kiwi cheese consumers are now discovering. The price we now pay has very little to do with the cost of production and everything to do with the maximum price Fon-Terror (no spelling mistake) can get on the world stage. One percent of kiwis may benefit from a FTA with China; the rest of us won't.
Of course, Fisher & Paykel and the ANZ National Bank are not the only companies moving as much of their operations as quickly as possible to the cheapest parts of the world. It's a global race to the bottom where there will be a few winners and billions of losers. The improved standard of living for some workers in India, China, Mexico, will just as quickly be lost to bright lights of mindless consumerism and to the enslavement of debt.
And by cheapest, I don't稚 just mean labour. God given natural resources and the environment itself are being exploited and ultimately destroyed in the pursuit of profit. Whether it is the forests of the Amazon, fisheries of the Southern Ocean, the air above China, or water below the Canterbury Plains, greed has no moral compass and only one direction - more.
F&P and the ANZ show the true face of neo-liberal, globalised capitalism for what it is; how to make as much money as quickly as possible at anyone’s expense.
It’s a race to exploit the world’s poorest people so the world’s richest can get richer. In the process, the working families who have built up these companies whether they are in Manchester, Michigan or Mosgiel are kicked in the guts and left on the side of the highway called Globalisation.
And where does that highway lead? It leads to Economic Dictatorship via a New World Order of privately controlled transnational corporations. You have been warned!
James Ayers can be heard on his show 'The Corporate Nemesis' on Plains FM 96.9, Christchurch,Tuesdays 11am