A Great Victory, Pyrrhus!

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A Great Victory, Pyrrhus!

No, I won’t comment the unsolicited massage service, Angie had to experience during the G-8 summit. Despite the published mainstream opinion, this might turn out to be one of the more pleasant experiences she’ll have to go through this year.

Last week, a decision made to the news which came, for most people, like a bolt of lightning out of thin air. WalMart will give up in Germany. Effective December 31, all WalMart shops will be sold to the METRO Group, Germany’s largest group of retail chains.

After eight years of hard struggle, WalMart surrenders to the German United Services Union, ver.di. This union, amalgamated by fusion of most smaller unions a couple of years ago, is one of the most powerful organizations in Germany. There is only one union left of comparable size, the Union of Industrial Metalworkers, the IG Metall. "IG" means industrial trade union, unlike in "IG Farben."

Ver.di is one of the major factors in Germany, where leftist politics have a stronghold. They are exerting more political leadership than the head of our administration, Angela Merkel, Chancellorette. The unions are among the leading voice in the debate of an unconditional basic income and wherever a company hires more than a few helping hands, they claim influence.

You can’t run a WalMart shop with nothing but unqualified part time workers at € 400.- a month, like the ALDI-chain (Trader Joe’s in the USA) or LIDL do, where the market manager and the shift chiefs are full time workers and all others are part timers who earn € 400,- a month for 20 hours a week. A WalMart shop requires a qualified basic staff of full time employees who must bear some responsibility and, in turn, don’t get a hungerlohn. Here’s where the unions muscle in: Every shop with more than a certain number of full time employees must accept a Betriebsrat (workers committee). These committees are usually being installed at the urging of the unions in order to represent labor. Unfortunately, these committees have the right by law to exert influence on the company’s policy. Not only concerning who’s hired and who’s fired, but general policies as well. In a company of the size of WalMart, any member of this committee will be suspended from his working chores and can dedicate his entire time to the representation of the employees protected by him. He can’t be fired until two years after his defeat at the Betriebsrat elections, so basically, it is a sinecure with full pay. During my own life as an employee, I have found myself twice in a situation where I might have appreciated qualified assistance, but got screwed instead, because I would not sacrifice myself in the struggle against the evil capitalists. Thanks, boys.

But I digress.

The permanent war of the unions against this evil blood-sucking, American-imperialist, pooh-pooh capitalists was what made WalMart lose most of its profits. Millions had to be spent in senseless lawsuits, many of which ended in a settlement out of court, leading to nothing.

I love to shop in German WalMarts. Not only that they have a wide spectrum of goods and competitive prices, I have the impression that – at least in those Shops I patronize (Munich, Würzburg, Dortmund), the employees make a rather happy impression. Ask any of them for some information – you will get a satisfying answer. I once asked a lady at the information how to make a suggestion to improve their service and, without any hesitation, she picked up her phone and put me through to the manager on service. He was friendly and told me that improvements were under way, but thanked me anyway. You won’t see this behavior in a German – managed retail chain like Karstadt, where employees are scared to death when a patron has a complaint. When I, not too long ago, addressed one Karstadt employee with a minor warranty issue, he told me he could not process my request, because to do so would make his department look bad a few layers "above" and he would be brandmarked as a bellyacher, which means: a candidate for the next lay-off – party.

People who have such an issue at WalMart simply get their money back.

WalMart in Germany employs some forty-five thousand people, most of whom will be laid off during the next year. Metro is going to fill the gaps of their real.- chain (a retail chain in the Metro company), but of course they will close those places where real.- and WalMart are situated side by side. Metro will close the WalMart administration in Wuppertal, they do have enough bureaucrats, I am sure.

In other words, the German unions have delivered proof that they are powerful and can destroy hopes of forty-odd thousand people in a wink. Funny: last time I looked up the meaning of the word Gewerkschaft (union) in a dictionary, I read something about protecting the workers and representing their interests against the employers. Well, later next year, almost none of these forty-five thousand workers will need any protection against bad pay or overtime any more.

What a victory. Sort of....

August 4, 2006

Copyright © 2006 LewRockwell.com


Geehrter Herr Spinoza,
ich möchte Ihrem Artikel mal etwas in deutsch hinzufügen.

Gott sei es gedankt gibt es in einer "sozialen! Marktwirtschaft" noch Gewerkschaften. Die machen auch nach wie vor absolut Sinn. Ebenso wie gesetzliche Mindestlöhne absolut Sinn machen, Teile der arbeitenden Bevölkerung vor der Willkür gewissenloser, egozentrischer Kapitalisten zu schützen.
Wal Mart ist (in deutschland)daran gescheitert, dass Sie der amerikanischen
Neigung Klarheit und Wahrheit zu vernachlässigen gefolgt sind.

Deutsche Mitarbeiter die vorher bereits (immer dieselben)durch verschiedene Organisationen als Arbeitskräfte wie in Köln Plaza/ Continent/Eurospar u.a. zuletzt Wal Mart, durchgereicht wurden, nun in blaue Wal mart Jäckchen zu stecken und Billigware aus Eigenimport aus China wie Nasenhaarschneider und Trimmsets zu verkaufen, reicht nicht aus. Denn jeder, nicht nur Aldi und Lidl sondern auch andere
Importeure der DIY Branche stehen hier im Non Food Bereich im Wettbewerb zu Wal Mart. Die eigene Positionierung fehlte komplett. Alles und Nichts aber nichts richtig!ist die Kernkompetenz von Wal Mart in Deutschland gewesen.

Wer Samstags eine überarbeitete schlecht deutsch sprechende Mitarbeiterin mit 50 Kunden vor der Wursttheke alleine lässt und dann noch jede Bestellung frisch schneiden lässt, überschätzt die Gedult deutscher Kunden.
Die vielgepriesenen Serviceleistungen wie das Einpacken der Ware am Counter fand in Deutschland nicht statt. verkaufspersonal dient nur zum Verräume der Ware und der Trend die Lieferanten für die Disposition und verräumung von Waren "zwangszuverpflichten" lässt vermuten das eben Wal Mart nur noch an der Kasse sitzt. Die Kommunikation in/mit der Öffentlichkeit ist unsensibel, amerikanisch überheblich,
fehlerhaft. Die haben ihre Hausaufgaben schlecht gemacht die Wal Marts und deshalb good bye.

Weg von den Minimalstrategien im Mittelstand und im Handel, dazu gehören auch die Ausbeutung von Mitarbeitern und Lieferanten. Diese Negativspirale erleben wir überall und mit einem "floaten" der Löhne würde diese Abwärtsspirale in Deutschland beschleunigt.


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