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PlaNet News & Views

Posted on 16-3-11

2010 Roger Award
Monday April 4th, 7.30 P.M, Trades Hall, 147 Great North Road, Grey Lynn,
The winner/s will be announced by the Roger Award's Chief Judge, Christine
Dann. The other speaker will be Murray Horton, from the Campaign Against
Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA), speaking on behalf of the organisers
of the annual Roger Award.
The event is organised by Global Peace and Justice Auckland. All inquiries
about the event to: Lynda Boyd,
All inquiries about the Roger Award to Murray Horton,
The six finalists for the 2010 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational
Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand are (in alphabetical order):
BUPA, Imperial Tobacco, Telecom, Vodafone, Warner Brothers and Westpac.
There is one finalist for the Accomplice Award (accompanying Warner
Brothers) - the Government.
The quantity of finalists is down from the nine in 2009 but the "quality"
of the six in 2010 certainly isn't. BUPA is a British-owned operator of a
chain of retirement homes, one of the very largest in this sector which
has become dominated by for profit corporations, with many of them
foreign-owned. It was nominated for its shabby treatment of both its
residents and workers (one piece of evidence supporting its nomination was
a lengthy New Zealand Herald article about a 100 year old BUPA home
resident who died of scabies, to the outrage of her family).
Imperial Tobacco was nominated for all the reasons one would expect a
major tobacco transnational corporation (TNC) to make the cut, starting
with the fact that several thousand New Zealanders die every year from the
effects of smoking. This entirely preventable killer by a legally and
addictive drug was put under the spotlight in 2010 by the Select Committee
hearings on its disproportionate impact on Maori. This is the first time
that Imperial has been a finalist, with the tobacco industry usually
having been represented among the finalists by its bigger rival British
American Tobacco (the 2008 Roger winner). BAT was nominated again in 2010
but the case against Imperial was felt to be stronger this time by the
Award organisers, who select the finalists.
Telecom remains the only TNC to have been a finalist every year since the
Roger Award started, in 1997 (although it has only actually won it twice).
It was nominated for a number of reasons but the reason it went through to
the finalists yet again was because of something unique to it in 2010,
namely the fiasco involving the repeated collapses of its much hyped XT
mobile network. Not only did these collapses (occurring over several
months) inconvenience several hundred thousand customers; they also
knocked out the 111 emergency service on occasion and thus endangered both
life and
property. That fact alone led to major criticism of Telecom by the public,
media and Government.
Vodafone makes its first appearance as a finalist (also marking the first
time that both major phone TNCs have been Roger finalists). It is there
for different reasons than Telecom, namely its shabby treatment of its
Westpac (which was also a finalist in 2009 and was the joint winner of the
2005 Roger) was nominated for a number of reasons, such as profiteering,
and shabby treatment of both its workers and customers. It wasn't the only
bank nominated but it was felt that the case against it was stronger than
that against the other nominee (ANZ, which won the 2009 Roger).
Finally, Warner Brothers makes its first appearance in the Roger Award,
going straight through to the finalists, because of it providing a
textbook example of a big TNC bullying a small country's film industry and
extorting further corporate welfare from a craven Government only too
eager to increase the taxpayer subsidy being paid to this corporate
bludger for it to deign to continue filming "The Hobbit" in NZ. As past of
that nomination, the Government  is the sole finalist for the Accomplice
Award for its forelock tugging and grovelling to Warners and its local
mouthpiece, Sir Peter Jackson; specifically, by changing the employment
laws to change all film workers into contractors (with far fewer legal
rights) and giving Warners our money to add insult to injury.
The organisers agonised long and hard before choosing these six TNCs as
finalists, as there were plenty of other worthy contenders, including two
previous winners (BAT and ANZ) and some major corporate villains such as
McDonalds. There are always ineligible nominations, for New Zealand
corporations (Fonterra); for the activities of TNCs outside NZ (BP's oil
spill in the Gulf of Mexico); and for institutions that aren't
corporations at all (the Government, the National Party).
The criteria for judging are by assessing the transnational (a corporation
with 25% or more foreign ownership) 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.
There is also an Accomplice Award for an organisation (not an individual)
which was the worst Accomplice during the year in aiding and abetting
transnational corporations in New Zealand to behave as described in the
criteria. The Accomplice's award is in addition to the Worst Transnational
Corporation award and will not necessarily be awarded every year. The
judges are: Paul Corliss, from Christchurch, an organiser with the
Education Union and a life member of the Rail and Maritime Transport
Union; Christine Dann, from Banks Peninsula, a writer and researcher; Sue
Bradford, from Auckland, a community activist and former Green MP; Joce
Jesson, a Senior Lecturer in Critical Studies in Education, University of
Auckland, and a community activist; and Wayne Hope, Associate Professor,
Communications Studies, Auckland University of Technology. They are given
a shortlist of finalists.
The Roger Award is jointly organised by CAFCA and GATT Watchdog. Full
details, including previous winners and annual Judges' Reports, can be
read online at