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Fri Nov 9, 2012, 09:05 AM

Crummy Retail Jobs Are a Corporate Choice, Not a Law of Nature

http://blog.zeynepton.com/2012/10/crummy-retail-jobs-are-corporate-choice.html

Let me give an example that is related to part-time work. As Greenhouse’s article mentions, some retailers operate with 85% part-time workers. Their excuse is that they need that much “flexibility.” Sure, some flexibility is needed in retail. The nature of most service industries is that customer traffic varies greatly. Sometimes the store is crowded, sometimes not. But flexibility for 85% of the employees? That’s just ridiculous!

How do I know it’s ridiculous? Mercadona, Spain’s largest supermarket chain, offers the lowest prices in the country and it does so with over 85% of its employees full-time and even salaried, with very predictable schedules that are provided one month in advance. Yes, these are the same employees—cashiers, people bringing bananas out from the stockroom—that other companies need to be so “flexible” with.

Don’t Mercadona customers visit the stores at different times? Don’t the stores need flexibility? You bet they do. Go into a Mercadona store in the afternoon and it’s almost empty. It’s the siesta time, I guess. Go back in the evening and it’s full of people. But pretty much the same number of workers are there throughout the day.

How does Mercadona get away with this? It invested in its employees. Mercadona spends about €5,000 per new employee in a four-week training program which includes cross-training. So when traffic is high, employees help customers and when traffic is low, those same employees shelve goods and order merchandise. There’s always something productive to do and pretty much any employee has been trained to do it well. That’s Mercadona’s idea of flexibility.

And by the way, Mercadona doesn’t do this for charity. It’s highly profitable. At a time when Spain is struggling (to put it mildly), Mercadona is thriving!

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Reply Crummy Retail Jobs Are a Corporate Choice, Not a Law of Nature (Original post)
eridani Nov 2012 OP
Jackpine Radical Nov 2012 #1
midnight Nov 2012 #2
madrchsod Nov 2012 #3
Warpy Nov 2012 #4

Response to eridani (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 09:11 AM

1. But if American giant retailers (other than maybe Costco) adopted this plan, it would leave

one insatiable need unmet for the owners:

The need to have an outlet for acting out their general mean-spiritedness on their hapless employees.

Where's the fun in being a bigshot capitalist if you can't engage in systematic cruelty to the underlings?

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 09:26 AM

2. I can't help but think of NAFTA and how many people said the loss of jobs wouldn't matter, because

we would make new ones... We would replace all the lost work with new jobs. Private profiteers seem to harvest profits, and have no respect for those who do the labor because like locusts they will move on with the next part-timer....

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 09:33 AM

3. "back in the old days"......before the mid 60`s

people in my town who worked in retail actually made a living wage. today...ya right.

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Response to madrchsod (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 03:26 PM

4. Well, it wasn't that much of a living

They could live decently but saving to educate their children and for their own retirement wasn't easy. Of course, most could look forward to pensions, the wholesale looting hadn't taken place yet.

Employers tended to have loyal workforces and low turnover, even at Wooworth's, cutting their rehiring and retraining costs dramatically. With a more reasonable cutoff point for OASDI taxes leading to a low percentage of tax, it didn't cost employer that much to hire adequate staff.

In addition, since the wage floor was a livable one, everyone had adequate money to spend in the store (and others), so the money pump was working efficiently and anyone who paid the slightest attention at all did well.

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