Today we learned the harsh news that Kellogg’s was laying off 500 workers in London. This in time for the Christmas holidays and all in the justification of profit at the cost of their workers and the community in which they’ve been for more than nine decades. This, sadly, has been part of a string of all too common and all to devastating events in London. In the end we are left feeling, as we have in the past, powerless to effect any change in the course of this community disaster.
Some in the community blame the unions, some the governments, but what I don’t see is many blaming the company itself. Why is this the case? Have we become so hardened that we implicitly agree with these decisions as the logical consequence of doing business? Is this the way of things that the business case trumps the case for community and the people who live in it? Are we now forever trapped in a cycle of survival of the fittest where the community that will take the lowest wage gets the employment? And will we decide that this is the way of the world or do we have the capability as communities to demand a change in the way business is done?
The fact remains that Kellogg’s made, in the last quarter, $352 million in profit and was troubled they were on track to only make a 5% profit in 2013. In the cold analytic world of dollars and sense this may not seem that great but sadly the real world effect of this cold calculation leaves 500 people out of work while Kellogg’s goes on its way, after many decades of using our community to help fuel its growth, without so much as a look over its shoulder. And yet there are many in our community who would shrug their shoulders as this is the price of doing business and hide behind the “rationale” decision of a transnational corporation.
But how is this rationale decision in the face of the human misery it causes? I think there should be a new condition on companies setting up shop in London or any other Canadian community. That condition should be that they commit to staying the course with their employees and to not take millions in profit ahead of the welfare of those communities that help sustain them. That our governments, at all levels, will not give one more red cent to any corporation that does not commit to staying in a community and that when they are in danger the community will assist. That the people of Canada will finally say to every company in the world that the price of doing business here, and of selling your products here, is that you cannot coldly abandon us while still making billions in profit.
I know I’m being naive and know that many who read this will shake their heads at my sad ranting but how much longer can we sustain this kind of heartless profit and consumerism before we are collectively left with nothing? How long will we sell our middle class dreams for the short changing return on minimum wage or bargain shopping? Will we ever stand up? Likely not, but I hope we try soon before it’s too late and we are left holding a shopping bag filled with the fools bargain of community for sale at any price.