Editorial: Resisting Transnational Corporations

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During the last Alter Summit meeting, we had the opportunity to discuss with undocumented workers in struggle at Chronopost, a subsidiary of the French Post that manages the express parcel of the public giant. We also had the opportunity to hear from a representative of the international network of call centre workers who organize resistance in this highly internationalized sector.

They explained to us the extreme exploitation conditions experienced by the workers of these multinational companies, the employer strategies to discipline the workforce and the way in which resisting employees build intersectoral and international solidarity.

The discussion naturally led us to draw the contours of the multinational company as it exists today, its organizational complexity made up of cascading subcontracting and vagueness about the real “order giver”, its managerial strategy for dividing workers using the different statutes as well as its ability to put workers in competition at all levels of the supply chain.

For several decades, economic and trade reforms and international treaties have built a legal architecture that is largely favourable to large multinational companies, protecting their interests to the detriment of workers, communities affected by their activities and the planet. In this context, every passing day seems to increase the power of these companies, which control an ever-increasing share of world production and impose their standards on other players.

However, this reality is not new. As early as the 1970s, organizations denounced the abuses of multinational companies.

International campaigns against impunity and the disproportionate power of multinationals still exist today [1]. They also demand a tax system that would make it possible to tax the huge profits of companies and effectively combat tax optimisation and tax havens or to demand that they respect labour rights and their environmental obligations.

But beyond broad campaigns that also denounce the acquaintance of political representatives with industry, particularly in the European spheres, we can contribute to the establishment of analytical tools and encounters to fight multinational companies. For example, the 2018 Courier Assembly also provided an opportunity to reflect on the fight against the foodtech multinationals.

Developing convergent international resistance against a particular company, between workers, trade unions and affected communities, but also climate activists or consumers, would allow the struggle against multinationals to take on a new dimension, in line with the social and environmental damage they cause and the obstacle they represent to any social and ecological change.