INDEPENDENT NEWS

2008 Roger Award Finalists Named

Published: Tue 18 Nov 2008 05:30 PM
2008 Roger Award Finalists Named
The eight finalists for the 2008 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand are (in alphabetical order): ANZ, BAT (British American Tobacco NZ), Contact Energy, GlaxoSmithKline, Infratil, McDonalds, Rio Tinto Aluminium NZ (nominated under its former, better known, name of Comalco) and Telecom. There is one, self explanatory, finalist for the Accomplice Award – Business New Zealand.
Telecom, the winner of the 2007 Roger Award, is the only transnational corporation (TNC) to have been a finalist every year since the Roger Award started more than a decade ago (although it has only actually won it twice). This year it was nominated for a multitude of sins, ranging from overcharging for mobiles to outsourcing New Zealand jobs to the Philippines.
Infratil is the only one not to have featured before, all the rest have previously been finalists (although none of them have ever won it). This tells you something about these corporate recidivists.
BAT just keeps on finding new and inventive way to sell and promote a product which kills up to 5,000 New Zealanders a year. ANZ was nominated for reasons ranging from profiteering to outsourcing and very specifically for its role in the ING scandal. Contact Energy was nominated for shoving up its power prices while simultaneously increasing its directors’ fees and because of the environmental dangers posed by its Gasbridge proposal in Taranaki. McDonalds and Infratil are there because of their bashing of workers and unions (in the case of Infratil, this specifically involved the lockout of Wellington bus drivers by its NZ Bus subsidiary). GlaxoSmithKline was nominated because of the cockup with its reformulated thyroid drug Eltroxin, which adversely affected a large number of New Zealanders. And Rio Tinto Aluminium NZ (the old Comalco), was nominated for a range of reasons, but primarily for being a corporate bully with its constant threats to pack up and leave if it doesn’t get its way (despite being the biggest recipient of corporate welfare in NZ, vis a vis its power price).
We’ve just had an election but all that establishes is which party gets to administer the economy for the next three years. These guys are the ones who actually own it – and no New Zealanders get a vote for them. So this is a real election, whereby Kiwis get to say which of our owners has had the most negative impact on our country this year.
And the Roger Award is more relevant than ever, with the election of a Government full of throwbacks to the 90s’ mantra of “what is good for Big Business is good for New Zealand”. Not only that, we actually have the original Roger back from the political grave and Roger Kerr, Mr Full Speed Ahead To The Past himself, back in favour. It’s déjà vu all over again!
The criteria for judging are by assessing the transnational (a corporation which is 25% or more foreign-owned) that has the most negative impact in each or all of the following categories:
Economic Dominance - Monopoly, profiteering, tax dodging, cultural imperialism
People - Unemployment, impact on tangata whenua, impact on women, impact on children, abuse of workers/conditions, health and safety of workers and the public
Environment - Environmental damage, abuse of animals
Political interference – Interference in democratic processes, running an ideological crusade
The judges are: Geoff Bertram, from Wellington, a Victoria University economist; Brian Turner, from Christchurch, immediate past President of the Methodist Church and social justice activist; Paul Corliss, from Christchurch, a life member of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union; Cee Payne-Harker, from Dunedin, Industrial Services Manager for the NZ Nurses’ Organisation and health issues activist; Christine Dann, from Banks Peninsula, a writer and researcher; and Bryan Gould, from Bay of Plenty, a former Waikato University Vice-Chancellor. The winner(s) will be announced at an Auckland event in March 2009.
The Roger Award is organised by the Christchurch-based groups, Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) and GATT Watchdog. Bad luck to all the finalists and may the worst man win!
ENDS

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