Big businesses that dominate a market place need to show responsibility otherwise people suffer and indeed when the dominance is overwhelming the economy will suffer as well. See moreHERE from The New Daily.
The unabridged version is copied below.
So Coles has finally been found out and fined for activity that has been occurring for decades. Coles has agreed to pay $10 million in penalties and also review contracts with hundreds of suppliers after admitting to 15 instances of unconscionable conduct.
I suspect that the powers to be in these organisations might have seen the light last year when the ever increasing complaints about their business practices became a clamour and then an uproar. As a result we have seen some changes in the language that is used in their media releases and in the way they engage with other industry groups. They now have a bigger task, try they need to change the culture of their companies when dealing with suppliers from one of “just do as you are told” to one of ‘how do we do this together?”.
That is a difficult task, pharmacy changing the culture of companies that employ some 200, case 000 people (the biggest employers in Australia) won’t be easy. The culture at the top has to change first, from the Chairman down a lesson has to have been learnt and strategies developed to stop the behaviour and stop the fines.
The field operators, the business negotiators, the buyers and all those who deal with suppliers need to be called back to head office and given unambiguous instructions to deal fairly with other businesses.
The impact of this unconscionable behaviour has been fourfold – firstly it is on the capacity for those in their supply chain to innovate; for too long the innovators in manufacturing and production have been told to stop thinking and just do as they are told. Secondly is the impact on productivity, the supply chain to Coles and Woolworths is so large that when it is stressed innovation stops and then the productivity of the nation is impacted and as a result our standard of living is falling and the future does not look as bright as it should. Thirdly and what is often, sadly, forgotten is the health of individuals in the supply chain. There have been too many business people, honest hard working and clever individuals, who have gone home to their families stressed out, unable to see a way out of a dilemma created by others and worried about their future. That outcome, that impact on the individual, has been ignored too long. Fourthly is the impact on communities and on choice for the consumer. The duopoly roll over our cultural landscape destroying all in their paths.
So how did this situation arise? How did the culture of destruction and lack of care come about?
Before the brickbats lets deal with the bouquets. Bruce Billson, the Minister responsible for competition policy has created an environment where those who are aware of the deeply ingrained behaviours have felt more empowered to confront the problems, to name the enemy and to demand action. Rod Sims and his team at the ACCC have shown professionalism, courage of conviction and indeed strong nerve in the face of the biggest companies in Australia who have resources and well-resourced supporters. Mr Sims has confronted the companies and won a battle from which others in the past have retreated or worse given up and joined the enemy.
The brickbats belong to those that for too long shunned the battle. This includes the immediate past leaders of the ACCC. For year after year we in the small business community would highlight the problem and we were ignored by these previous leaders who lacked courage and certainly did not care about the impact on peoples’ lives and on the productivity of the nation. Shallow management that lead to disgraceful outcomes. The ACCC was allowed to just wallow along by politicians who also cared nought for anything but their friends in big business and big unions. Both major parties still have people in them who believe that the duopoly should be allowed to do whatever they wish, that ”competition” would decide the outcome. These politicians failed in their portfolios and failed the business community. They know who they are and they should hang their heads in policy shame.
We in the small business community are happy to work with big businesses in honest fair partnerships where there are rewards for hard work and good management. In most cases that is exactly what happens. It needs to happen with the duopoly.
We will probably never remove the domination of a few companies but surely with domination comes responsibility and we have yet to see that responsibility manifest itself in any real way. Until the changes take place there will continue to be a negative impact on productivity and that should worry even the most-narrow minded, economically dry, text book toting economist – surely it will worry them? If not replace them with people like Billson and Sims who know the rules, know reality and will create a better economy by true competition and a transparent honest and robust business community.