Worst Companies Contest

2011 Roger Award Finalists Named

Eight finalists – including Telecom and Westpac – have been named for the 2011 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The six other contenders are:  Adidas, Newmont Waihi Gold, Oceania, New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd/Rio Tinto Alcan NZ Ltd, Sajo Oyang Corporation and Sky City.

The Awards are the brainchild of the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa.

Judges assess transnationals (corporations with 25% or more foreign ownership) for ‘the most negative impact’ in several categories.

These include economic dominance ( monopoly, profiteering, tax dodging, cultural imperialism) unemployment, impacts on tangata whenua, health and safety of workers and environmental damage.

There is one finalist for the Accomplice Award – the Government (in its own right and accompanying both Sajo Oyang and Telecom).

Adidas nominated for ‘arrogance’

Adidas was nominated for its ‘total arrogance.’ CAFCA says:”This transnational corporation (TNC) tried to charge New Zealanders substantially more for its “official” All Blacks’ jersey than what it charged for the same item if bought overseas. When NZ fans resorted to buying the jerseys online, Adidas blocked those Internet sales outlets.”

“Newmont Waihi Gold ( a finalist in 2009 and 2003) and has made it again  for the same reason –  appalling mining activities, which have created a huge hole in the middle of Waihi and which it now wishes to extend into creating a giant underground mine under the town,

“Oceania is New Zealand ’s largest rest home provider and is owned by a foreign equity fund.It is a profit-driven business, with the residents the “product” and the workers are overwhelmingly female, brown and/or Third World, who are paid very low wages.

Aluminium smelter under fire

“New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd/Rio Tinto Alcan NZ Ltd (runner up in the 2009 and 08 Roger Awards) for lobbying two Governments over several years to secure to secure excessive allocations of free emissions units under the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme

“Sajo Oyang, a South Korean fishing company, has been nominated for exploitation and harm of its crew members (six of whom died when one of its boats sank in NZ waters; others have walked off Oyang boats in NZ ports in protest at the appalling systematic abuse of crewmen. flag of convenience shipping, the decline of shipping standards and NZ shipping, and the failure to sign the international treaty to maximise liability for clean up costs by charterers”.

Sky City cited

Sky City was nominated as “a corporation that makes its money from gambling, particularly for its impact on the poor and vulnerable.”

CAFCA says:”Aa startling example of the way Sky City treats its staff is that the workers have to wear flea collars or flea spray because Sky City won’t close for 24 hours to have the place properly cleaned.”

Telecom is the only Transnational which has been a finalist every year since the Roger Award started in 1997 (although it’s only actually won it twice).

CAFCA says: “Its crimes include being fined a record $12 million for breaches of the Commerce Act and for being subsidised by the Government as the preferred supplier of the ultra fast broadband (UFB) scheme).

The nominator writes: “Telecom has made mega profits out of NZ for two decades now and has shamefully reinvested very little of that back into its NZ telecommunications business, preferring to enrich its foreign owners and biggest shareholders with dividends instead.” massive corporate welfare for a recidivist transnational bludger”.

Westpac was a finalist in both 2010 and 2009 and the joint winner of the 2005 Roger Award.

CAFCA says one of the reasons it has been nominated again is “for profiteering (including paying its Chief Executive Officer $5.8 million and $5.4 million respectively, over the past two years, the highest in NZ) while its workers are left to struggle on low pay.”

The Government was nominated has the Accomplice Award in its own right (in addition to accompanying both Sajo Oyang and Telecom) “for helping to create the conditions allowing the Rena wreck and the Pike River disaster through their policies of de-regulation, privatisation and the encouragement of sales to foreign transnationals. “

The judges are: Joce Jesson , a Senior Lecturer in Critical Studies in Education, University of Auckland, and a community activist; Paul Corliss , from Christchurch, an organiser with the Tertiary Education Union and a life member of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union; Paul Maunder , cultural worker, curator of Blackball Museum of Working Class History and a founding member of Unite!; Sam Mahon , an artist, author and activist from North Canterbury; and Wayne Hope , Associate Professor, Communications Studies, Auckland University of Technology.

The winner(s) will be announced at a Christchurch event on the night of April 20, next year.

CAFCA adds: ”Bad luck to all the finalists and may the worst man win!”