27 May 2006, Comments Off on Unhappy little vegemites

Unhappy little vegemites

Author: Helen

It’s happened again: the equivalent of the whole adult population of some country towns is about to be sacked from a manufacturing company in Victoria, the sackingest state in Australia. This time it’s Kraft. Which makes, among other things, Vegemite. Hence the title. (Vegemite will still be produced in Victoria, while other products will be outsourced – a heartwarming show of support for our cultural icon, especially since it’ll soon be all these workers can afford to eat.)
He's doing his bit for his Dad... since his Dad got the sack to increase profits

Heather Ridout, the CEO of the Australian Industry Group, came out with one of her intriguing fudged statements, which I have always filed under “dead giveaway”:

NEAL WOOLRICH: The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Industry Group Heather Ridout says Kraft’s decision is another sign of how difficult it is for Australian businesses to compete with low cost overseas rivals.

HEATHER RIDOUT: Part of this decision will be to become more capital intensive to get costs out of their business. And, you know, the fact is you can employ a worker in China for the cost of the workers compensation premium in Victoria.

And whilst it’s not the only consideration, you really do have to become more efficient. And that’s where Kraft is headed, as are other manufacturing companies….

….Kraft is committed to Australia. They want to be here for the long haul. They’ve been in Australia for approaching 100 years; I think it’s about 80 years. And they’re committed to staying here. But they can only stay here while they’re competitive here.

And what they’re trying to do is make the tough decisions that will guarantee their survival.

In other words, despite the lovely advertisements depicting the WorkChoices nirvana with smiling bosses and workers working it all out together to the satisfaction of all… it’s compete with the workers in China, Sunshine, and lose that onerous worker’s compensation, or the company’ll outsource your job.

So, remind me again of the logic behind Ms Ridout’s statements?

1. We want the economy to prosper because we live in a developed or “first world” country where we are able to earn a decent income (with important exceptions, of course.)

2. The economy can’t prosper unless we are competitive with developing or “third world” countries.

3. Therefore, if we get our wages and salaries down to a level comparable to those in the third world, the economy will really be prospering, which means that everybo…

Oh, wait…

For the record, the Cast Iron Balcony prefers Promite.

Comments (0)

  • zoot says:

    I’ve switched to MightyMite. Hmmm, probably means I’ve made the situation worse for the remaining Victorian workers. Sorry.

  • Helen says:

    Or there’s the Dick Smith stuff, but that always reminds me of Pauline Hanson.

  • brownie says:

    Kraft is not Australian owned, so what do they care about our workers?
    It is becoming more and more difficult to purchase Australian grown food in supermarkets which emphasise cost-leader prices.
    I am sure we grow apricots but they must all be exported because I can only find Turkish dried ones (which are sneakily labelled ‘Mediterranean’).
    The UK has a very robust trend to ‘fair trade shopping’ and I hope Australians figure this out soon.
    ALL our utilities are foreign owned – Origin gas is Singapore owned, TXU a.k.a TRU is of course Texas Utilities. We have to do something soon.

  • L. says:

    I tried some Vegemite once, and decided it must be an acquired taste.

  • Helen says:

    That’s almost a universal comment unless you’re born in Australia, L. (As a committed omnivore, just about the only food I can’t stomach is horseradish, so I turn my nose up at Wasabe.) Vegemite is made from the sludge left behind after brewing beer, or something like that– one of the “best not to ask too many questions” type of foods. Because it’s high in salt and B vitamins, it’s a good pick me up. It reminds me of Miso, which I love. I prefer Promite (a less iconic rival brand) to vegemite because it’s less salty. The key to both is to smear it on thinly, so you can see the buttered toast through it. If you assume it’s a spread therefore the thickness must be equivalent to that of Jam or Nutella, it’s excessively salty and inedible.

    Brownie, I agree those Turkish apricots are suss. You can get proper, flat, squished Australian apricots in the dried fruit section of the stupormarket.

  • TimT says:

    There was a very interesting article in The Spectator last year about ‘fair trade’ shopping. If I can recall it correctly, the journalist sat down and did the sums, and worked out that supermarkets were taking a greater percentage of the profits from Fair Trade goods than they were from the others; profits, it should be noted, that could have gone back to the impoverished producers. I can’t remember the details, though.

    I don’t mind so much if things I buy are foreign or local. I don’t see why I should subsidise an Australian producer just because they’re Australian. If the best croissants in Woolys come from France, I’ll buy them. If the best croissants come from Vietnam, I’ll buy those. (Although, in fact, I prefer the ones from the baker down the road!)

    Workers losing their jobs is a sad thing, but if the industry is more competitive in future and prices of Kraft goods fall, then that will benefit the entire Aussie economy.

  • Helen says:

    Except for the manufacturing workers who get thrown out of work. And the businesses (Food, clothing, appliances, services, entertainment, holidays…) which then lose their business…

  • kate says:

    I get so cross with all those ‘business leaders’ who forget that if they cut wages they also cut the discretionary income of the vast majority of their customers. They’re so DUMB! I’ve got an art history degree and I can figure that out, why can’t they with their MBAs?

  • Kate says:

    Yay economy! It’s great. I love the economy. I’m glad we’re structuring the world so the people serve the economy, rather than vice versa.

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