Working for Mcdonald's in Europe: The Unequal Struggle?

By Tony Royle | Go to book overview

1

Liberalism, collectivism and the multinational corporation

The men who run global corporations are the first in history with the organization, technology, money and ideology to make a credible try at managing the world as an integrated economic unit.

(Barnet and Mueller, 1974, quoted in Clarke, 1996:26)

The self-destructive tendency of modern capitalism begins with the large corporation.

(Galbraith, 1992:53)

This book is concerned with the protection of democratic rights in the workplace and raises a number of important questions about the regulation of multinational corporations in modern society. Multinationals have come in for a great deal of criticism; some of their detractors suggest that they are the means by which exploitative practices are dispersed world-wide (Van der Pijl, 1989; Sklair, 1995). Indeed, Pilger (1998) in his critique of the global capitalist system has described them as the 'shock troops of the imperial powers'. Other commentators have been more sanguine and have suggested that multinationals are subject to the constraints of the global competitive economy (Gray, 1992) and that they are mostly interested in promoting the common good, being a benign source of investment, technology transfer and a means of upgrading labour forces (Dunning, 1993).

The round of negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Seattle at the end of 1999 and the role of the multinational were the focus of a good deal of organised protest from groups concerned about Third World development, environmental and health issues and labour standards. No fewer than 1,200 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had formed a coalition criticising the activities of multinationals and calling for a halt to the WTO's drive to cut trade tariffs and open up markets. They suggest that the WTO itself is too strongly influenced by the big corporations and that its powerful disputes system, which allows for punishing sanctions if trade rules are broken, undermines international agreements on the environment and affects the sovereignty of countries on issues as diverse as food safety and labour standards (Goldsmith, 1996; Nader and Wallach, 1996; The Guardian, 1999).

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Working for Mcdonald's in Europe: The Unequal Struggle?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables viii
  • 1 - Liberalism, Collectivism and the Multinational Corporation 1
  • 2 - Welcome to Big Mac 16
  • 3 - The Corporate Paradox 35
  • 4 - Mcdonald's at Work 56
  • 5 - 'there's No Place like Home' 85
  • 6 - Co-Determination? 119
  • 7 - For a Few Dollars More 150
  • 8 - Where's the Beef? 177
  • 9 - Conclusion 196
  • Appendix 215
  • Notes 223
  • References 226
  • Index 241
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