Boycotting companies

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sTeamTraen
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Boycotting companies

Post by sTeamTraen » Mon Apr 12, 2021 4:50 pm

So the UK pubs are reopening and there are calls to go to Anywhere But Spoons. Fair enough, Tim Martin is a Brexity c.nt and by all accounts an abusive employer (certainly his initial reaction to furlough seems to have been pretty terrible). But then what about his staff? Do they deserve to become unemployed if this boycott succeeds? Are they perhaps guilty by association, in that they knew (or "should have known") what they were getting themselves into by working for him? Or are they considered entirely innocent and merely exploited?

One argument runs that if a boycott of a company is effective, that unpleasant employer will fail and people can then get jobs at similar businesses in the sector that will hopefully be run by nicer people. But I'm not sure if that's true. Companies like Wetherspoons tend to redefine sectors; we can perhaps wish for a return to pre-Spoons pubs with ordering systems that don't look like McDonald's, but the truth is that the catering industry (which, despite the romanticism of both right and left for the Traditional British Pub Filled With Stout Yeomen is what pubs are part of) is now more fast food/casual dining than it is pint and ploughman's; economies of scale will dominate, and a big percentage of pubs are now owned by chains, whose ultimate owners may be private equity groups or overseas operations that don't pay much tax. And in the immediate future, "You can't get there from here". Opportunity costs and various forms of hysteresis will work in favour of the status quo, even if that involved Tim f.cking Martin, and anyone who runs a large successful company will, I think, tend on average to be less fluffy-bunnies about their employees than we might like.

This extends to other industries, too. British arms exports to Saudi: bad(*). Highly-skilled, well-paying aerospace jobs at BAe factories: good. Converting the latter to make air ambulances: hard, and perhaps just as importantly, slow. Reading in the Sun that do-gooder Guardian readers are closing your factory down so that a slightly more right-on business can perhaps rise from the ashes: nah, I'll vote Tory/Brexit thanks.

And what about people who work in cigarette factories? Or at slightly higher levels in tobacco companies? At what point do you lose the right to be just someone who has to earn a crust and start to take some kind of moral responsibility for what your company does?

I don't know what the answer is. I see people whose views I respect arguing on both sides.

(*) Right now, British arms exports to Saudi are f.cking terrible, but as long as I've been an adult the same arguments have been deployed even when the Saudis weren't bombing anybody.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:39 pm

I think this is one of those cases where it's less complicated than that. The point of a boycott is the use economic pressure forces companies to change before they go bust. So - unless the company in question is so committed to c.ntery they'd rather go bankrupt than meet consumer demand - job losses should be minimised. If the employer in question is incapable of responding to market forces then those jobs were ultimately doomed anyway.

Wetherspoons is bad for the sector overall. There are few cases where closing a spoons would leave a community without a pub, so removing the worst actor would transfer business mainly to big breweries who are arguably slightly less exploitative.

Also:
British arms exports to Saudi: bad(*). Highly-skilled, well-paying aerospace jobs at BAe factories: good.
High-skilled, well-paying jobs designing weapons for the Saudis to commit genocide with are bad, not good. Aerospace engineers are much better able to find other jobs than Wetherspoons wage slaves, and should do so. Same goes for oil-industry geologists. Sorry not sorry.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:51 pm

As well as what Bird said.

If someone at Wetherspoons were to lose their job that would be bad for them. But if demand shifts to other pubs then employment will probably increase elsewhere. The effect on employment in the industry will probably be neutral.

As for arms sales to Saudi, as well as being wrong, the UK arms industry receive enormous government support: https://www.sipri.org/publications/2016 ... -and-trade https://caat.org.uk/challenges/government-support/

BAE isn't going to suddenly make civilian products at a profit. But the government could puts its effort into supporting other industries. The UK having a huge arms industry isn't an accident. Its the result of many decisions made over the years.

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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by sTeamTraen » Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:57 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:39 pm
Aerospace engineers are much better able to find other jobs than Wetherspoons wage slaves, and should do so.
Aerospace engineers, sure. Skilled machine operators who grew up locally and don't fancy being told to get on their bike? Not so much.

It also seems to me that many of the things that are allegedly "not a problem" with boycotts of any kind overlap to quite a degree with things that are "a huge f.cking problem" with Brexit. For what it's worth I tend to side with the "it's a huge f.cking problem" end of the equation, but there does seem to be some cakery going on.

Watching a majority of Remainers bemoaning the decline of the UK finance industry and "thousands of job losses in the City" due to the loss of passporting rights etc was an interesting exercise in cognitive dissonance reduction; I didn't have "sympathy for the bankers" on my Brexit bingo card. Of course, that quickly became rationalised as "Well, there are lots of people working in the City who aren't hugely paid bankers", which is probably true, but that wasn't what the same people were saying in 2009 when the finance industry couldn't melt down fast enough for them.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:24 pm

There are two different ways of thinking about an economic loss.

In one sense, shifting demand from one place to another means that there is a loss for one and a gain for another. If you and your mates boycott the Black Bull and drink in the Queen's Head instead, the outcome might be that someone working at the Black Bull loses their job (which is bad for them), but the Queen's Head is more busy, so the manager hires a new person (which is good for them). The net result is roughly equal. One person who had a job becomes unemployed, and an unemployed person gets a job.

But there are other situations in which there are losses and no one gains. For example, lets say that due to import duties and increased bureaucracy the price of beer increases in both pubs. You and your mates decide that going to the pub is just too f.cking expensive and instead you sit at home and argue with people on the internet. The outcome would be that someone from both pubs loses their job, and spending evenings arguing doesn't create any new employment.

Brexit is the latter case, overall, Britain and to a lesser the extent the EU, will be worse off economically. Its not inconsistent to oppose Brexit and be in favour of a boycott.

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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:27 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:57 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:39 pm
Aerospace engineers are much better able to find other jobs than Wetherspoons wage slaves, and should do so.
Aerospace engineers, sure. Skilled machine operators who grew up locally and don't fancy being told to get on their bike? Not so much.
Yes, downsizing BAE would be bad for them.

But government shifting its support to another industry would hopefully make new opportunities elsewhere. If that happened the result would be neutral as other people would get the newly created jobs.

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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by sTeamTraen » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:01 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:27 pm
sTeamTraen wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:57 pm
Aerospace engineers, sure. Skilled machine operators who grew up locally and don't fancy being told to get on their bike? Not so much.
Yes, downsizing BAE would be bad for them.

But government shifting its support to another industry would hopefully make new opportunities elsewhere. If that happened the result would be neutral as other people would get the newly created jobs.
Sure. My question is whether it works out like that. I guess the obvious alternative at the moment is green energy projects.

Historically I was not especially opposed to the defence industry, in that in the 1980s if you sold Tornados to the Saudis that was subsidising the Tornados that were, at least plausibly (and I mostly sincerely believed) keeping the Soviets at bay. Not so clear these days (although here we are with goodness knows what being readied to throw at Ukraine by Putin...).
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by nezumi » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:12 pm

The problem with boycotts with enormous companies is that there is no way to get enough popular support for it to actually work - even in terms of being noticed, never mind forcing change. Nestle are, unforgivably, still in existence, for example. I don't oppose boycotts, I see them in the same way I see leaflet/email campaigns, protests and facebook groups. All very well and good but won't actually change anything. I am against violence in general, and me being violent in particular, but we're definitely getting to the point where it's obvious to everyone, not just me, that nobody pays attention unless summat's on fire.

Besides, it's almost impossible to boycott somewhere like Wetherspoons, plenty of their pubs aren't labelled obviously as Wetherspoon pubs and while you or I might check the small print, Joe Half-cut on the street will just walk on in.

The stranglehold big breweries have on pubs is absolutely diabolical and the best way to deal with that is legislation. I have known quite a few pub landlords and ladies in my time* and only a small proportion have made much of a profit going back to around 2002 onwards. Those that made money were independent/semi-independent. I don't know all the ins and outs but the gist is: fewer people go out -> brewery makes less money -> brewery raises rent -> beer price goes up -> fewer people go out. Even some of the busiest pubs have been barely scraping by because of the extra outlay they need to make to draw in punters.

Maria always used to say
MariaD wrote: Labour is not fungible, Claire
After I found out what fungible means (not a hallucinogen then, colour me disappointed), I agreed. You can't just chop out entire industries because the people that worked there can't magically have 20 years or experience in some other, completely different industry. This is evidenced by the existence of places like Castleford, Middlesbrough, Ashington and so on. When mining was destroyed, nothing replaced it. Those ex mine employees went on to be unemployed, sign off sick, or take a vastly lesser position in an unrelated area, only lucky few were able to move on to similar work. I don't think I need to reference this, although a quick search found loads of studies on the socio-economic impact of closing mines. Stands to reason the idea is applicable generally.

Where this applies to pubs is that they have already been in steep decline for years, boycotting Wetherspoons won't kill Wetherspoons anyway, but Wetherspoons is the most affordable out there and that means that a lot of people who drink there probably wouldn't drink anywhere else unless they also drove the prices down using the same tactics as Wetherspoons. These people want to go to the pub but basically can't afford it, they probably can't really afford Wetherspoons** but they go because they feel like they get value for money. They wouldn't go to the Queen's Head because it's £4.50 a pint. If Wetherspoons shuts and nothing is put in place to create new jobs for them in the area***, then they end up unemployed, on the sick, leaving the area or taking a lesser position for even less money.

People only have the power to boycott a company if they can afford the ethical alternative. A great many of us have no choice at all but to get toiletries in Savers ( Glassdoor employee review ), Primark for clothes (How Ethical Is Primark), and so on. People are very price conscious when they only have £70 a week to live on. Minimum wage is basically also the median income in many areas: 2017-2018 ONS figures Current minimum wage equates to £17,000 per year, or £334 per week before tax. This is the wage the vast majority live on, or try to live on. You can't ask them to boycott cheap companies, it's a sacrifice too far.

The root cause is the hollowing out of the regions of the UK in favour of power to London, and I absolutely do despise the Financial Service Industry's hand in all of this, but that was then and this is now, and the energy needs to go into getting money and jobs out of London and into the rest of the UK, and then finding new and preferably futuristically technological ways to get money from the rest of the world into the country.

Sorry about such a long post but this is close to my heart and I wanted to be more rigorous than usual. I hope this meets your high professional standards ;)



* Function of living in quite a few small towns over the years and having lots of musician friends.
** I work, I can't afford to go to the pub!
*** I'll tell you what really[/] f.cks me off. Telling people to retrain and search for a new job. Yes, by all means do, but also bare in mind that in depressed areas, there isn't a new job. One less job means one less discretionary-spending-unit, which means, less money circulating in the economy which means fewer jobs. Think of it like circling the plug-hole.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by noggins » Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:42 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 6:24 pm
There are two different ways of thinking about an economic loss.

But there are other situations in which there are losses and no one gains. For example, lets say that due to import duties and increased bureaucracy the price of beer increases in both pubs. You and your mates decide that going to the pub is just too f.cking expensive and instead you sit at home and argue with people on the internet. The outcome would be that someone from both pubs loses their job, and spending evenings arguing doesn't create any new employment.
But wouldn't you just spend your pub money on something else, so it would still be neutral overall ?
Or is there some types of consumer spending that benefit the economy more than others?

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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Lew Dolby » Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:50 pm

All this talk of ecomics seems to me to ignore one important point about people boycotting certain companies / countries / whatever - it's simply the choice not to spend money with companies that you don't approve of.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Little waster » Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:30 pm

Lew Dolby wrote:
Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:50 pm
All this talk of ecomics seems to me to ignore one important point about people boycotting certain companies / countries / whatever - it's simply the choice not to spend money with companies that you don't approve of.
This is it.

Boycotting is like voting*, an individual vote might make no difference and collectively voting en masse for one coloured rosette over another might have unexpected downsides but if you don't even try you forfeit even that tiny bit of influence.

*worse still failing to boycott a bad company means you end up actively endorsing it with your patronage.
It's meta, so it is allowed.

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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by lpm » Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:43 pm

nezumi wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:12 pm
The problem with boycotts with enormous companies is that there is no way to get enough popular support for it to actually work - even in terms of being noticed, never mind forcing change. Nestle are, unforgivably, still in existence, for example. I don't oppose boycotts, I see them in the same way I see leaflet/email campaigns, protests and facebook groups. All very well and good but won't actually change anything. I am against violence in general, and me being violent in particular, but we're definitely getting to the point where it's obvious to everyone, not just me, that nobody pays attention unless summat's on fire.

Besides, it's almost impossible to boycott somewhere like Wetherspoons, plenty of their pubs aren't labelled obviously as Wetherspoon pubs and while you or I might check the small print, Joe Half-cut on the street will just walk on in.

The stranglehold big breweries have on pubs is absolutely diabolical and the best way to deal with that is legislation. I have known quite a few pub landlords and ladies in my time* and only a small proportion have made much of a profit going back to around 2002 onwards. Those that made money were independent/semi-independent. I don't know all the ins and outs but the gist is: fewer people go out -> brewery makes less money -> brewery raises rent -> beer price goes up -> fewer people go out. Even some of the busiest pubs have been barely scraping by because of the extra outlay they need to make to draw in punters.

Maria always used to say
MariaD wrote: Labour is not fungible, Claire
After I found out what fungible means (not a hallucinogen then, colour me disappointed), I agreed. You can't just chop out entire industries because the people that worked there can't magically have 20 years or experience in some other, completely different industry. This is evidenced by the existence of places like Castleford, Middlesbrough, Ashington and so on. When mining was destroyed, nothing replaced it. Those ex mine employees went on to be unemployed, sign off sick, or take a vastly lesser position in an unrelated area, only lucky few were able to move on to similar work. I don't think I need to reference this, although a quick search found loads of studies on the socio-economic impact of closing mines. Stands to reason the idea is applicable generally.

Where this applies to pubs is that they have already been in steep decline for years, boycotting Wetherspoons won't kill Wetherspoons anyway, but Wetherspoons is the most affordable out there and that means that a lot of people who drink there probably wouldn't drink anywhere else unless they also drove the prices down using the same tactics as Wetherspoons. These people want to go to the pub but basically can't afford it, they probably can't really afford Wetherspoons** but they go because they feel like they get value for money. They wouldn't go to the Queen's Head because it's £4.50 a pint. If Wetherspoons shuts and nothing is put in place to create new jobs for them in the area***, then they end up unemployed, on the sick, leaving the area or taking a lesser position for even less money.

People only have the power to boycott a company if they can afford the ethical alternative. A great many of us have no choice at all but to get toiletries in Savers ( Glassdoor employee review ), Primark for clothes (How Ethical Is Primark), and so on. People are very price conscious when they only have £70 a week to live on. Minimum wage is basically also the median income in many areas: 2017-2018 ONS figures Current minimum wage equates to £17,000 per year, or £334 per week before tax. This is the wage the vast majority live on, or try to live on. You can't ask them to boycott cheap companies, it's a sacrifice too far.

The root cause is the hollowing out of the regions of the UK in favour of power to London, and I absolutely do despise the Financial Service Industry's hand in all of this, but that was then and this is now, and the energy needs to go into getting money and jobs out of London and into the rest of the UK, and then finding new and preferably futuristically technological ways to get money from the rest of the world into the country.

Sorry about such a long post but this is close to my heart and I wanted to be more rigorous than usual. I hope this meets your high professional standards ;)



* Function of living in quite a few small towns over the years and having lots of musician friends.
** I work, I can't afford to go to the pub!
*** I'll tell you what really[/] f.cks me off. Telling people to retrain and search for a new job. Yes, by all means do, but also bare in mind that in depressed areas, there isn't a new job. One less job means one less discretionary-spending-unit, which means, less money circulating in the economy which means fewer jobs. Think of it like circling the plug-hole.

All of this is 100% right.

One form of privilege is being able to say I will never ever work for gambling, alcohol, tobacco, fossil fuel or war companies. If I did work for them I'd actively try to make them go bust. But for loads of people, a minimum wage job at the bookies just can't be turned down.
What ever happened to that Trump guy, you know, the one who was president for a bit?

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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by jimbob » Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:00 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:57 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:39 pm
Aerospace engineers are much better able to find other jobs than Wetherspoons wage slaves, and should do so.
Aerospace engineers, sure. Skilled machine operators who grew up locally and don't fancy being told to get on their bike? Not so much.

It also seems to me that many of the things that are allegedly "not a problem" with boycotts of any kind overlap to quite a degree with things that are "a huge f.cking problem" with Brexit. For what it's worth I tend to side with the "it's a huge f.cking problem" end of the equation, but there does seem to be some cakery going on.

Watching a majority of Remainers bemoaning the decline of the UK finance industry and "thousands of job losses in the City" due to the loss of passporting rights etc was an interesting exercise in cognitive dissonance reduction; I didn't have "sympathy for the bankers" on my Brexit bingo card. Of course, that quickly became rationalised as "Well, there are lots of people working in the City who aren't hugely paid bankers", which is probably true, but that wasn't what the same people were saying in 2009 when the finance industry couldn't melt down fast enough for them.
I said a few years ago that I knew that the UK economy needed rebalancing due to its over reliance on the City, but I wasn't sure that trashing the Farming, Fishing, and Manufacturing industries as well would be the way to go about it
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Apr 13, 2021 4:21 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:43 pm
nezumi wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:12 pm
The problem with boycotts with enormous companies is that there is no way to get enough popular support for it to actually work - even in terms of being noticed, never mind forcing change. Nestle are, unforgivably, still in existence, for example. I don't oppose boycotts, I see them in the same way I see leaflet/email campaigns, protests and facebook groups. All very well and good but won't actually change anything. I am against violence in general, and me being violent in particular, but we're definitely getting to the point where it's obvious to everyone, not just me, that nobody pays attention unless summat's on fire.

Besides, it's almost impossible to boycott somewhere like Wetherspoons, plenty of their pubs aren't labelled obviously as Wetherspoon pubs and while you or I might check the small print, Joe Half-cut on the street will just walk on in.

The stranglehold big breweries have on pubs is absolutely diabolical and the best way to deal with that is legislation. I have known quite a few pub landlords and ladies in my time* and only a small proportion have made much of a profit going back to around 2002 onwards. Those that made money were independent/semi-independent. I don't know all the ins and outs but the gist is: fewer people go out -> brewery makes less money -> brewery raises rent -> beer price goes up -> fewer people go out. Even some of the busiest pubs have been barely scraping by because of the extra outlay they need to make to draw in punters.

Maria always used to say
MariaD wrote: Labour is not fungible, Claire
After I found out what fungible means (not a hallucinogen then, colour me disappointed), I agreed. You can't just chop out entire industries because the people that worked there can't magically have 20 years or experience in some other, completely different industry. This is evidenced by the existence of places like Castleford, Middlesbrough, Ashington and so on. When mining was destroyed, nothing replaced it. Those ex mine employees went on to be unemployed, sign off sick, or take a vastly lesser position in an unrelated area, only lucky few were able to move on to similar work. I don't think I need to reference this, although a quick search found loads of studies on the socio-economic impact of closing mines. Stands to reason the idea is applicable generally.

Where this applies to pubs is that they have already been in steep decline for years, boycotting Wetherspoons won't kill Wetherspoons anyway, but Wetherspoons is the most affordable out there and that means that a lot of people who drink there probably wouldn't drink anywhere else unless they also drove the prices down using the same tactics as Wetherspoons. These people want to go to the pub but basically can't afford it, they probably can't really afford Wetherspoons** but they go because they feel like they get value for money. They wouldn't go to the Queen's Head because it's £4.50 a pint. If Wetherspoons shuts and nothing is put in place to create new jobs for them in the area***, then they end up unemployed, on the sick, leaving the area or taking a lesser position for even less money.

People only have the power to boycott a company if they can afford the ethical alternative. A great many of us have no choice at all but to get toiletries in Savers ( Glassdoor employee review ), Primark for clothes (How Ethical Is Primark), and so on. People are very price conscious when they only have £70 a week to live on. Minimum wage is basically also the median income in many areas: 2017-2018 ONS figures Current minimum wage equates to £17,000 per year, or £334 per week before tax. This is the wage the vast majority live on, or try to live on. You can't ask them to boycott cheap companies, it's a sacrifice too far.

The root cause is the hollowing out of the regions of the UK in favour of power to London, and I absolutely do despise the Financial Service Industry's hand in all of this, but that was then and this is now, and the energy needs to go into getting money and jobs out of London and into the rest of the UK, and then finding new and preferably futuristically technological ways to get money from the rest of the world into the country.

Sorry about such a long post but this is close to my heart and I wanted to be more rigorous than usual. I hope this meets your high professional standards ;)



* Function of living in quite a few small towns over the years and having lots of musician friends.
** I work, I can't afford to go to the pub!
*** I'll tell you what really f.cks me off. Telling people to retrain and search for a new job. Yes, by all means do, but also bare in mind that in depressed areas, there isn't a new job. One less job means one less discretionary-spending-unit, which means, less money circulating in the economy which means fewer jobs. Think of it like circling the plug-hole.
All of this is 100% right.

One form of privilege is being able to say I will never ever work for gambling, alcohol, tobacco, fossil fuel or war companies. If I did work for them I'd actively try to make them go bust. But for loads of people, a minimum wage job at the bookies just can't be turned down.
Yes, definitely.

One of the advantages of having a strong social safety net is that people aren't forced into unethical lines of work, be it building bombs or mugging old ladies. Some, of course, will still choose to*.

Another is that workers aren't forced to accept exploitative conditions just to avoid starvation (or not avoid it - e.g. the large numbers of UK workers needing food banks).

So we shouldn't judge people on low wages for their industry's/employer's ethics. I'm not convinced that many societies' inadequate social safety net is a reason for people to feel obliged to financially support employers they consider unacceptably exploitative, though.


*That said, I do wonder if there's a link between a country's economic inequality and the % GDP from classically unethical industries like arms?
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Stephanie » Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:37 am

I don't know who is romanticising traditional pubs tbh. My parents ran one on behalf of some landlords, and were never given enough money to cover all the wages - which meant both of them working long hours and not getting paid for all of them. I think my mum in particular was quite grateful for the pubs closing over lockdown, despite it putting her and my dad on universal credit. Neither have worked in a Wetherspoons, so I have no idea how it compares, but they were run ragged doing what they did. I'm still pretty cross about it.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:02 am

Stephanie wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:37 am
I don't know who is romanticising traditional pubs tbh. My parents ran one on behalf of some landlords, and were never given enough money to cover all the wages - which meant both of them working long hours and not getting paid for all of them. I think my mum in particular was quite grateful for the pubs closing over lockdown, despite it putting her and my dad on universal credit. Neither have worked in a Wetherspoons, so I have no idea how it compares, but they were run ragged doing what they did. I'm still pretty cross about it.
Yes, I have friends working in a tied house and it's similar, except that the landlord is there with them. The brewery siphons as much money out the place as possible, while they've had to have crowdfunders to put in disabled access to the venue space, and another to pay wages during the not-lockdown-but-nobody-actually-wanted-to-go-to-the-pub.

Breweries are just property-management companies these days, who make a bit of beer on the side. I'm pretty sure they're hoping the pub will go bust so they can sell the plot to developers to build flats.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by lpm » Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:28 am

Sadly, there's always someone new with a lifelong dream of having a pub and a fresh redundancy payoff. The big property-management companies don't mind when a landlord goes bust, because there'll be a new one along soon enough to sign a lease and pour money into renovations. The "leave it empty to decay then pull it down to build flats" approach is a good one, but takes years till it's enough of an eyesore to get neighbours eager for it to be gone.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Brightonian » Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:05 pm

Even when a pub isn't going bust it can still get closed down and converted into flats if that generates even more profit.

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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:57 pm

Yeah, there's no need to wait till it's an eyesore - you just sell the property.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by lpm » Wed Apr 14, 2021 2:37 pm

The extra £ you can get from selling it with planning permission is huge. The breweries know how to get planning permission - by waiting till it's a decrepit rat-infested dump that's been boarded up for a decade. It then goes through planning with only a minimal back-hander to the committee chairman.

Councils they never grant change-of-use planning permission for a pub that's still running or recently closed down - the public get defensive about their beloved pub they never went to.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by tom p » Thu Apr 15, 2021 12:32 pm

nezumi wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:12 pm
The problem with boycotts with enormous companies is that there is no way to get enough popular support for it to actually work - even in terms of being noticed, never mind forcing change. Nestle are, unforgivably, still in existence, for example. I don't oppose boycotts, I see them in the same way I see leaflet/email campaigns, protests and facebook groups. All very well and good but won't actually change anything. I am against violence in general, and me being violent in particular, but we're definitely getting to the point where it's obvious to everyone, not just me, that nobody pays attention unless summat's on fire.

Besides, it's almost impossible to boycott somewhere like Wetherspoons, plenty of their pubs aren't labelled obviously as Wetherspoon pubs and while you or I might check the small print, Joe Half-cut on the street will just walk on in.

The stranglehold big breweries have on pubs is absolutely diabolical and the best way to deal with that is legislation. I have known quite a few pub landlords and ladies in my time* and only a small proportion have made much of a profit going back to around 2002 onwards. Those that made money were independent/semi-independent. I don't know all the ins and outs but the gist is: fewer people go out -> brewery makes less money -> brewery raises rent -> beer price goes up -> fewer people go out. Even some of the busiest pubs have been barely scraping by because of the extra outlay they need to make to draw in punters.

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After I found out what fungible means (not a hallucinogen then, colour me disappointed), I agreed. You can't just chop out entire industries because the people that worked there can't magically have 20 years or experience in some other, completely different industry. This is evidenced by the existence of places like Castleford, Middlesbrough, Ashington and so on. When mining was destroyed, nothing replaced it. Those ex mine employees went on to be unemployed, sign off sick, or take a vastly lesser position in an unrelated area, only lucky few were able to move on to similar work. I don't think I need to reference this, although a quick search found loads of studies on the socio-economic impact of closing mines. Stands to reason the idea is applicable generally.

Where this applies to pubs is that they have already been in steep decline for years, boycotting Wetherspoons won't kill Wetherspoons anyway, but Wetherspoons is the most affordable out there and that means that a lot of people who drink there probably wouldn't drink anywhere else unless they also drove the prices down using the same tactics as Wetherspoons. These people want to go to the pub but basically can't afford it, they probably can't really afford Wetherspoons** but they go because they feel like they get value for money. They wouldn't go to the Queen's Head because it's £4.50 a pint. If Wetherspoons shuts and nothing is put in place to create new jobs for them in the area***, then they end up unemployed, on the sick, leaving the area or taking a lesser position for even less money.

People only have the power to boycott a company if they can afford the ethical alternative. A great many of us have no choice at all but to get toiletries in Savers ( Glassdoor employee review ), Primark for clothes (How Ethical Is Primark), and so on. People are very price conscious when they only have £70 a week to live on. Minimum wage is basically also the median income in many areas: 2017-2018 ONS figures Current minimum wage equates to £17,000 per year, or £334 per week before tax. This is the wage the vast majority live on, or try to live on. You can't ask them to boycott cheap companies, it's a sacrifice too far.

The root cause is the hollowing out of the regions of the UK in favour of power to London, and I absolutely do despise the Financial Service Industry's hand in all of this, but that was then and this is now, and the energy needs to go into getting money and jobs out of London and into the rest of the UK, and then finding new and preferably futuristically technological ways to get money from the rest of the world into the country.

Sorry about such a long post but this is close to my heart and I wanted to be more rigorous than usual. I hope this meets your high professional standards ;)



* Function of living in quite a few small towns over the years and having lots of musician friends.
** I work, I can't afford to go to the pub!
*** I'll tell you what really f.cks me off. Telling people to retrain and search for a new job. Yes, by all means do, but also bare in mind that in depressed areas, there isn't a new job. One less job means one less discretionary-spending-unit, which means, less money circulating in the economy which means fewer jobs. Think of it like circling the plug-hole.
You make a lot of good points; however if pubs are always just scraping by (and they are), then only a small percentage of their customers need to boycott them to make a significant difference. So you saying a boycott won't make a difference to a big company is wrong.
Therefore, poorer folks can still go to 'spoons, while better-off folks boycott them & 'spoons are forced to change or go bust (and some other cheap pubs with less openly c.nty owners will open)
Lastly, you would have to already be pretty drunk not to know that the pub you've walked into is a 'spoons, and you can just walk straight out and go somewhere else nearby.

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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by science_fox » Thu Apr 15, 2021 2:35 pm

For me the bigger issue with boycotts, is that a lot of the companies you as an ethical consumer would want to boycott aren't companies you deal with. Boycotting 'spoons is easy. Nestle is possible (although you have to do a alot of research and keep upto date with the ever-shifting morass of brand name ownership). Boycotting a specific hedge-fund that invests in palm oil. No chance. Maybe some derivative of your managed pension fund has some of their shares, but you can't change that.

I suspect the analogy with voting is apt. Whoever you vote for the government gets in, and the players behind the scenes don't change much.

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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by monkey » Thu Apr 15, 2021 3:07 pm

science_fox wrote:
Thu Apr 15, 2021 2:35 pm
For me the bigger issue with boycotts, is that a lot of the companies you as an ethical consumer would want to boycott aren't companies you deal with. Boycotting 'spoons is easy. Nestle is possible (although you have to do a alot of research and keep upto date with the ever-shifting morass of brand name ownership). Boycotting a specific hedge-fund that invests in palm oil. No chance. Maybe some derivative of your managed pension fund has some of their shares, but you can't change that.

I suspect the analogy with voting is apt. Whoever you vote for the government gets in, and the players behind the scenes don't change much.
That's why a different tactic is used there - putting pressure on your pension fund, bank, or whatever to divest from those companies.

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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Apr 15, 2021 4:40 pm

I seem to be quite successfully boycotting having any money whatsoever, which is another approach ;)

But yes, you can switch to cooperatives as mentioned above, credit unions, building societies or even specifically "ethical" banks like Triados, or keep your savings in micro-credit to be lent to people in developing countries without access to traditional credit.

I think the solution with Palm oil is more to pressure producers and importers into cleaning up their supply chains, and pressuring for stronger legislation either in producer countries or importers.
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Re: Boycotting companies

Post by Gfamily » Thu Apr 15, 2021 5:20 pm

We used to be fairly regular 'spoons users, as their drinks are varied, often local and well served, their food was reliable and offered a reasonable range at affordable prices (particularly their breakfasts), and their venues were clean, not over crowded & the loos were generally in a better state than the local boozers'.
Being a chain meant that you felt comfortable that you would get a consistent level of performance wherever you found yourself.

Overall, we thought they had a poor reputation mainly because of middle class snobs who never used them (or didn't realise that they had been to one). Truth be told, they raised the standard of many towns' pubs by setting the bar higher for all the others.

I had very little knowledge of its owner until his profile was raised in the Brexit campaigns, and that's when we stopped using them.
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