Aside

The documentary “Walmart: The High Cost Of Low Price” revealed the stories of walmart employees and former managers about the companys policies and problems associated with employees. This film got a lot of response and attention from the public which is a nightmare of public relations. Walmart fought back with the help of former presidental advisors and campaigns. On the other hand, there still seems to be a number of employees who enjoy working for walmart and feel as a part of community. So what is Walmart doing right or wrong? Walmart has been under criticism due to their anti-union policy. There are numerous of cases where active employees who have been trying to unionise, have been fired and managers are known to have union prevention chapters in their work manuals. Although unionising is not allowed in the states, you can’t stop the power of people. Their employees have had some success in organising non-union groups in order to improve working conditions and facilities for employees. And surprisingly, successfully. For example, the Walmart Workers Association in Florida has had success with their activities, Walmart Workers of America was successful organising the employees without forming a union and in China, they actually work with officials to organise unions. I wonder if this allowawnce is influenced by the fact that most unions and organisations in China are controlled by the government anyway or the different work philosophy of hard-working not-complaining chinese… or has it anything to do with the little fact that China is Walmarts biggest trading partner? The exploitaton of employees in many forms, globally and within the States, has been reported: underpaid hours, illegal firing, unionising punishments, working overhours and even physical violence have been just some examples. When it comes to factories overseas, there have been cases reported of using child labour, failing to provide equipment for employees health protection and not to mention working inhuman hours. Wage violations have been reported in a mix with lawsuits of not giving enough working hours for more skilled, experienced and higher paid employees and giving hours to cheaper, part-time workers. On one had, it seems like a nice move to give opportunities to new employees, but it should be done without violating others rights. In the States, another big issue where the employees of Walmart remain the losers is health insurance. The whole health care system in the USA is not benefiting the most deprived people so health insurance provided by work is one of the options. Walmart has proudly introduced their health insurance for employees on their website, however, the New York Times found internal memos providing suggestions to spend less on health insurance. Easy steps like hiring more part-time people (last chapter), discouraging unhealthy people from working by adding physical tasks to every job are just one of them. Luckily, many states have been starting issuing laws to protect employees with new laws for big corporates and their health insurance systems. However, this doesn’t mean Walmart could not find ‘another way’. Then again, there are still numbers of employees who are actually happy working for Walmart and feel like a part of community. They get help from the company, are encouraged and have anpositive outlook on life. I personally have never asked any ASDA employee (which is under Walmart chain as well) if they liked working there but I’m sure the world is not just black and white. I believe that Walmart could do better. I believe that investing in the resources and having interest in employees could bring double back. Right now, although Walmart offers millions of jobs worldwide, their employees remain losers in their controlled and tough system. What do you think, are the employees of Walmart winners or losers in this case?

 Merilin Notton

Advertisements

High paid CEOs and the low-waged workers

Image

America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, where hard work is meant to pay off and be appreciated. The last decades the corporate CEOs have been taking a greater share of money whilst unemployment keeps rising and wages are decreasing. The high paid CEOs and the low-wage employers keep nourishing the economic inequality in the United States. Half of the people in America who make minimum wage or below are 25 years old or older, most of the minimum wage workers are women over the age of 25. Which means that many of them might have children and a family and still live in poverty although they have a job. This leads to people depending more on welfare although they have a job- because their wages do not cover their needs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQTSTXqRqos

This is not the way it should be and politicians should raise the minimum wage. Employees should be paid a wage they can live of and they should also be given a voice to demand their share of money.

– Lydia Berhe, (MDX, London)

– Social Media for Social Change. #Women2Drive

Image

The use of internet-based social media like twitter and facebook has increased rapidly the past few years. This has led to people across the globe using especially twitter and facebook to aware people all around the world on what is actually going on in many countries. Campaigns created on social media receive wide international attention.

The ‘women to drive’ social campaign that started in Saudi Arabia and went all over social media as #women2drive. In 2011 they started a facebook and twitter campaign and the women said that they were inspired by the Arab-spring in the neighbouring countries. The percentage of women active on social media in Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring countries have increased remarkably the past few years. Women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia decrease their opportunities and put them in a certain position. #women2drive has been supported by many and by politicians such as Hilary Clinton and also by some royals in Saudi Arabia. 17% of the women in Saudi Arabia are employed and almost half of the graduates in Saudi Arabia are women, they have one of the lowest number of women in work in the world. Therefore, the women of #women2drive believes that women being able to drive will result as a right that will create opportunities within work and business. It will also lead the women to take part of the economy.

– Lydia Berhe, (Hendon Campus)

Image

BRAZIL FORECAST: INEQUALITY THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

BRAZIL FORECAST: INEQUALITY THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

Weeks away from the World Cup and not too far from the Olympics, whoever is lucky enough to be attending one of these events will obviously be expecting enthusiastic and everlasting carnivals, beautiful and joyful dancers, a lovely weather and a city ready to receive only around 500,000 football fans. Let me update you, this was yesterday April 22nd in Rio de Janeiro: ( See pictures above).

Rio de Janeiro, probably the most widely known Brazilian city and expected to receive thousands of visitors from all around the world in less than two months exactly the Brazilian reality. Rio de Janeiro is a city full of tourists throughout the whole year, advertised for its carnivals, warmness and lovely landscapes. At the same time, is plagued with “slums” which cannot ever be compared to its meaning in the UK. “Slums” in Rio de Janeiro mean a “community” or a bunch full of half-destroyed houses, prostitution, drug trafficking, criminal bands, murders and do not even bother asking how many schools or medical care centres are there, because they are none. Around half an hour away from these places one could find big stadiums being built, roads being repaired and cleaned for the upcoming tourists and one can only wonder: HOW IS THAT? There is money for stadiums and roads but not to feed Brazilians? Of course, the well-known argument that we remember from the London Olympics comes out of the mouths of Brazilian politicians too: Tourists will bring money to local businesses, tourism improve the economy etc … Now, for starters, we must understand that people living in these slums are not educated nor owners of any sort of businesses (apart from maybe a drug one) or even speak English. Furthermore, is you were a tourist I will strongly advice you NOT TO go there under any circumstances. From this, and much more, we can already understand that this will not bring any sort of benefit to Brazilians and probably will even end up harming tourists.
Having understood this, when this reality is translated to the Global Political Economy the true meaning of “development” arises. Brazil is regarded as a rapidly developing country, with its GDP growing fast and an economy that is open and ready for business and investment; a country known for its “social approach” since Lula’s government and a country that has been able to use its soft power effectively and its amazing resources to overcome times of crisis. However, under my eyes, this is just a bad attempt to develop rapidly, to increase numbers on a screen, and attempt to be just another western state. The reality is Brazil is far from development. Brazil is a country ever year more unequal, more unfair. A country that prefers to invest in a World Cup rather than on its people; the only capital a country truly owns. At the end, losers are Brazilians but let me say, not every Brazilian. Not the Brazilians that are able to speak several languages and travel around the world, or Brazilians living in the centre of Rio enjoying how their roads get even better. The true losers are Brazilians in the slums, Brazilians that do not speak a word of English, Brazilians forgotten and pushed outside the city, Brazilian that regard from above (slums are mostly built on the top of hills and mountains) how the city “develops” and they don’t with a confusion background mixed with the sound of the joy of carnivals and the pull of a trigger.

Ana Maria Franco
Middlesex University, London.

MNCs and political power

Short facts at the beginning: in 2004, from one hundred biggest donors for federal candidates in the US, half of them were Multinational Corporations, couple of them donated enormous amount of money to the campaigns. For instance Goldman Sachs donated $6.5 million dollars, Microsoft donated $3.5 million. But the question is why? Obviously they are not doing it because the Chef Executive Officers and board of those firm have a big and good hearts and they feel that they should support the politicians that will work for the better future of the society. They are doing this to have the politicians in their pockets and by lobbying and pressure those who took the donations to work for them in the Senate or in the Parliament (isn’t that a legal bribe?). For instance HP was charged with $108 million fee for bribery scandal in which the firm violated Foreign Corrupt Act in Mexico, Russia and Poland in order the get the contracts to supply the government with its equipment (source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/04/09/sec_slaps_hp_with_108_meeelion_fine_for_bribe_scandal/).

Funny, because the sugar growers in US lobbied the politicians to push forward the decision to keep subsidies, even if keeping them cost the taxpayers $1.4 billion per year r with the largest one percent of U.S. sugar growers – the ones with major political clout – receiving nearly half of the sugar subsidy money. (source: http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/education_materials/modules/Corporate_Power_in_a_Global_Economy.pdf) 

So for me there is almost no difference between the two situations.

Jacek Bazis

Walmart takes it all

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart was a simple man, following simple principles and his simplicity brought him the victory. The first Walmart store was opened 50 years ago after seeing his first Walton’s 5&10 succeeding. The idea of successful business with low prices and great customer service sounded surreal to Walton’s competitors but as it turned out, the success of Walmart exceeded even Walton’s own expectations. The worlds largest private employer with only the U.S. Department of Defence and China’s People’s Liberation Army employ more people. Walmart’s fiscal revenues exceed the government budgets of all baltic states together by multiple times (that’s right). Obviously, all this success and becoming the most powerful private company does not come easy. New Walmart in town means often bankruptcy to small local businesses, hundreds of new vacancies does not equal hundreds of satisfied and happy employees with rights but in the end, Walmart’s story is a great example of American capitalism. There are losers, there are winners, locally in the US and globally. Just before you take a position, have a look how it works. It’s simple!
Walmartbizarro

From the very first Walmart, “Always low prices” in the chain have been the attraction for most of its customers. So they could sell products that people use in daily lives at just a bit cheaper. Offering a mind-blowing selection of goods in Walmart is just for convenience (and as a part of successful business plan, of course!) and people tend to like it. The more of your shoppings you can do in one place, the better, right? And it’s not only just offering better price and more choice, as a result of aforementioned, it’s us, the consumers who feed Walmart. Walmart has the power to get people to overconsumption. As a result in this vicious buy-sell-produce more circle, things become so cheap there is no point in fixing broken things or thinking twice about the real needs (so do I REALLY need a banana case?) when you can just buy anything so cheap.

wal mart 1

Actually, not everything Walmart does is bad, they do invest in sustainability and new technologies to be as productive as possible with minimal waste. Although there are critics who see this campaign as a publicity propaganda stunt, Walmart as a global and very influential giant could cut benefits from investing in greener production. Environmental activists are encouraged. Check. Furthermore, Walmart does run and fund quite a number of charities and local communities. Obviously, the amount of money that goes to charity could be a lot bigger, but it’s a business after all.

051026_MB_GreenWalmart_ex

Inspired by
http://business.time.com/2012/07/02/ten-ways-walmart-changed-the-world/

Merilin Notton, MDX Hendon 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ny3C3d-ToI

THE PROBLEM OF HOMOGENISING THE WORLD

Let’s cooperate so that everyone gets where others already are, except some are already there.

Topics such as inequality, poverty, overpopulation are widely discussed and attempted to be solved but if we just knew the problem lies on trying to homogenise a world that is not similar nor meant or ever even capable of being equal and that everything that is built on those bases will go wrong things will probably take a different course. In the context of the current global system and its dynamics, one could argue that the urge of developing countries to make use of existing tools in order to someday achieve what they see other countries have already achieved is only logical; one can even translate this issue to humanity itself. However, if we understood that the world system where countries co-exist is as diverse as our own humanity is, we will then realise than same policies will never work in the same way they do somewhere else and that “cooperation” should then start by the fully comprehension of the issues of other nations and what it truly needs to be done in each particular case rather than just exporting- or attempting to- whatever worked in certain occasion. This only leads us to comprehend that in the context of an agreement between two countries, for instance, this one does not necessarily need to be equal ( in the sense of: you get one apple and I get one in return) but understanding, empathetic, or any other of those amazing human qualities we all possess.

Having said this, an excuse me if my human approach appears rare these days, one could find an infinite number of examples happening or that have happened over history where what have just been said can be applied. In this occasion, Colombian farmers and small-scale producers only keep on losing since a free trade agreement have been signed with the United States in 2006. In this video, in particularly, the lack of understanding (or maybe interest) is evident. One of their main arguments is the lack of subsidies they receive from the Colombian argument; reality that is different for farmers in the Unites States. As Colombian farmers don’t get subsidised what they are able to produce is limited and takes longer and what is actually produced needs to be sold so cheap to compete with the new American companies with free-pass entering the country that profit ends up in lost. Moreover, and probably one of the most obvious-yet not tackled- issues is the fact that Colombia suffers from the consequences of a Civil war that has been, and still, devastates the country in every way imagined. There are many other points that could be brought up in this matter: farmers being forced to use genetically modified seeds coming from the United States instead of using their own ones, the monopoly created by big Colombian companies by representing 70% of the total Colombian exports, the lack of support from the Government in the improvement of farmer’s conditions not only money-wise but by providing security from Guerrillas crime and lack of an effective registration system where lands will forever belong to farmers and cannot be easily taken by subversive groups, etc… None of these problems is owned by The United States.

Not to extended this any further-probably driven by the Colombian inside me – I would to state conclude by making clear the unfair position countries like Colombia, and therefore its farmers, possess in the outgoing Global system. As we haven’t learn to co-exist in the Global system in an equal but diverse way, any measures will only keep on working in the countries that they were meant to work on and the periphery will remain endlessly trying to tackle their own problems probably even misunderstood by their government itself. This is clear, my only wonder now, then, is whether our actual Global system will work if countries like Colombia supported their farmers and agreements could be made more “equal” or “fair” and for the pure sake of cooperation and mutual benefit.

 

Ana Maria Franco

Middlesex University, London.

 

 

Video

Banking on Haitis Poor

Globalization refers to this growing sense of interconnectedness. It signifies the deepening enmeshment of societies in a web of worldwide flows of capital, goods, services, migrants and ideas which then brings about social and economic change or growth some of which Haiti as has not seen and given the devastation the earthquake caused Haiti’s situation went from bad to worse. However with this type of “rural banking” this can really alleviate some of the issues poor haitians have, these banks are able to provide loans that help fund small businesses and ensure that people are able to get back on their feet after losing many of their belongings and livelihoods in the earthquake. Not only has banks such as these allowed people to take out loans, it has also made it easier for people in these rural areas to receive money from family members and people abroad which many depend on. In this case the Haitians in these rural areas are the winners, these banks have allowed them to be eligible whereas if they were to use banks under a different system they would not making their lives a little bit easier after all they have been through.

Paloma-Nicole Dias Dos Santos

Third Culture Kids

“Where are you from?”

The UAE is often described as being a cultural melting pot, so it’s unsurprising that the question above is arguably the number one conversation starter here. The indigenous population of the UAE are a minority within their own country, and the expatriate community here make up the majority. However, the ‘expat’ community is also quite a heterogeneous group, consisting of many different nationalities, the majority of whom stay in the UAE for a limited amount of time. The impact of such migration can be examined in many different ways. In this post I will briefly discuss one of the outcomes of this phenomena, and that is globalisation and the birth of Third Culture Kids (TCKs).

Image

The term “Third Culture Kids (TKCs)” or “global nomads” describes children who spend a significant amount of their developmental years in a foreign country (or several foreign countries), and as a result integrate “elements of those cultures and their own birth culture into a third culture”.The term was first coined in the fifties by the sociologist Ruth Hill Useem, after spending several years in India with her three children.

The first culture is that of the ‘home’ country, the second culture refers to that of the ‘host’ country, and the third culture is one that is created and shared by many. But where do TCKs stand within the international political economy? As a TCK myself, I often consider whether my upbringing has put me at an advantage or a disadvantage. In one regard, we can consider ourselves privileged to have experienced other cultures other than our ‘own’ – it has been argued that TCKs have good communication skills due to being exposed to more than one culture, whereby customs and methods of communication often vary between different cultures. This makes us more attractive to potential employers, as well as the fact that TCKs can often speak more than one language (put that on your CV fellow TCKs!). It can also be argued that we’re less likely to be sheltered and ignorant to many global issues – often with friends from a wide variety of different backgrounds, we’re likely to know more about different cultures and their respective social and political dynamics. Nonetheless, it is also possible for young people who have grown up being part of the ethnic majority in the same country as their parents to also be in tune with global issues.

Image

On the other hand, growing up in a third space has also been linked to the inevitable ‘identity crisis’. TCKs often have difficulty in identifying and defining where they ‘belong’, and it has been suggested that some take so long to figure this out that it takes TCKs slightly longer to fully develop their personalities. A counterargument to this is that, even people who grow up in countries whereby they are part of the ethnic majority, many people inevitably face some sort of identity crisis of trying to decipher where they fit into their respective society.

 

My personal opinion is that although the issue of identity is important, some TCKs are guilty of overthinking the issue. In an increasingly globalised world it’s becoming more acceptable, and also expected, to have a hybrid identity. A sense of belonging is not necessarily always found in one place, but it is now possible to feel a sense of belonging within communities across a number of geographical locations. Do we even have any right to feel a sense of ownership over one culture? It’s not logical for me to state that I identify strongly with either the Arab culture or British culture, simply because both cultures (as well as almost every other culture on earth) are diverse and not even homogenous within themselves. Hence, I would argue that TCKs have the potential to be the winners within the global political economy, so long as we utilise the advantages and benefits that we are privileged to have. What do you think? Do the negatives outweigh the positives?

Deena Abdo (Dubai Campus)

Video

Gap Yah youth save the world.

Although this hilarious parody video is stereotypical of privileged gap year volunteers, it also holds some truth. Being blessed with the privilege to be able to take gap years and travel, volunteer tourists usually come from countries such as the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and volunteer in developing countries in Africa and Asia. With the intention of serving those in need, volunteer tourists often assist in humanitarian and environmental projects. This new growing gap year/volunteer tourism phenomena has raised questions about the connection between volunteer tourists and neo-colonialism. Volunteer tourism has been attracting thousands young adults and offering them a cultural exchange experience from which they gain new personal skills. Volunteer tourism also helps young people with better employment chances in the future.
Sustainable development requires capacity and united efforts through people’s engagement.
Moreover, UN sees people as development actors ad not only recipients. For example, if it wasn’t for the millions of people who have involved themselves in various developmental projects voluntary, it is clear that none of the millennium development goals (MDGS) will be achieved. Even though it is important to note the importance of volunteers in development assistance, it has also raised concerns regarding its effectiveness, appropriateness and sustainability, particularly regarding the volunteers themselves.
“The use of volunteers, who often have little knowledge or experience of work they are undertaking, also calls into question their ineffectiveness and raises the specter of neo-colonialism in the tacit assumption that even ignorant Westerners can improve the lot of the people in the South.” Volunteer tourism organizations marketing their slogans such as ‘you are the difference’, ‘make a difference’, and ‘leave your mark on the world’ describe volunteer efforts as positive and achievable. This is a deceiving assumption about the complexities of development assistance. Moreover, the volunteer tourism industry has become commodified.

Some of the work that volunteer tourists do involves building homes or schools or engaging in conservation work within the local community, these are everyday simple jobs that anyone can do, including the locals. Studies have shown that volunteer tourism sometimes affects development of communities negativity, especially concerning how short the volunteer stays, their behavior, and how skilled they are. Moreover, volunteers usually pay a significant fee for the opportunity to participate in these volunteering programs, local communities would benefit greatly if the money was directly donated as it would pay a greater amount of labour. The labour hired would get more work done than one volunteer could. Volunteer tourist are able to experiment with their identity and get involved in different job roles with little or no attention paid to their skills and qualifications. Sometimes, they seem to hold self-interested motives. Moral arguments of whether gap year volunteering is principally motivated by altruism by egoistical motives have been raised. Privileged youth from developed countries might also be insensitive to different cultures and behave inappropriately local communities. Volunteering also gives them a hero complex, which is connected to neo-colonialist views that the faith of many developing countries or poor people depends on the help from Western volunteers and aid. Many volunteers are also unaware of the ways they might be indirectly exploiting local communities. Examples of this include environmental degradation through carbon footprint, and the psychological effects volunteers have on orphaned children when they leave. These children build an emotional attachment to volunteers and repeatedly feel abandoned with every leaving batch of volunteers.

While most volunteer tourists have good intentions, there has been criticism about the potential these tourists to lead to new forms of colonialist ideas and dependency. Studies found a number of volunteer tourism cases where experiences do not seem to encourage critical thinking about poverty and development, where foreign interests of volunteers are prioritized over local needs and where volunteer tourists and the organizations that offer volunteer tourism tend to receive more benefits than the locals.
In addition, it can lead to the potential exploitation of local communities and cultures. Volunteer tourists are the winners as they are provided with the opportunities to travel and ‘save the world.’

Balqis Hindash M00385581 Middlesex University Dubai Campus.

http://research.smuc.ac.uk/280/1/04-Butcher%20and%20Smith.pdf
http://www.academia.edu/2267242/Tourism_and_Transparency_Navigating_Ethical_Risks_in_Volunteerism_with_Fair_Trade_Learning
http://www.unv.org/what-we-do/volunteerism-for-peace-and-development.html
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09669581003782739#.U0nETaRfplY