The True Face of the North American Imperialist Company
Although Kraft was founded 130 years ago it didn’t become an important company until it began to sell millions of dollars in canned food to the United States Army during the First World War, becoming one of the major government contractors. From that point on they were dedicated to “feeding” the American dream.
Society has kept it going all this time. In the last presidential elections the company decided to contribute to the Obama campaign. As a way of returning the kind gesture, the new US president elected Mary Schapiro, Kraft’s Director, as the chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission, an agency that controls the companies that have stocks in the Market. This is like letting a wolf guard the sheep.
However, there’s an explanation to this kind gesture in offering such a financial responsibility to Kraft’s Director; the major Kraft Food’s stock holder today is Warren Buffet, the richest man in the world and Obama’s economic advisor.
Nobody makes a fortune from kneading dough...
“Kraft Foods reported today that in the first half of the year they earned $1,487 million, which is a 10.6% increase, compared to 2008” (EFE, August 2009). The news was released at the same time that the company began their brutal attack on the workers in the factory in Pacheco, Argentina.
They’re not satisfied with their fabulous earnings, Kraft continues on the same path that they began in 2004, when they planned for a process of lay offs that would affect 10,000 workers as well as close down 20 factories. They’re keeping their promise and at the same time the company’s earnings continue to increase. Thus, the extraordinary increase in worker exploitation by this North American Company is evident.
They’re not going to have it easy. This year, Kraft workers throughout the world have taken up struggles against these factory closings, lay offs and firings, like in Spain, Venezuela, and Columbia. In the latter case the Kraft company clearly demonstrated their method of attacking workers’ resistance. In 2005, after hundreds of workers were fired for joining a union or filling company complaints, the company decided to terrorize the workers: they locked thirty workers in a cafeteria forcing them to sign a letter of resignation. For refusing to sign the workers were later repressed by the National Police.
The denunciation by Sinaltrainal’s, Columbian food workers union, is specific: Kraft wants “the annihilation of unions and an increase in outsourcing and precarious working standards for the entire work force.” Whatever this situation has in common with what’s happening in Argentina is purely coincidental.
... without making flour out of everyone else
Behind the lines that spit out tons of millions of chocolate and cookies are mostly women workers.
A sister stated: “There are many women who work in the factory. We have to put up with everything. On the night shift we have to work for two or three people. There are pregnant women working without chairs, they don’t give out light tasks. Many mothers live inside the factory, 12 hours a day.”
The president of the company is, ironically, a woman. Irene Rosenfeld has never had tendinitis or worked 12 hours standing, but last year she did make 19.2 million dollars (www.cnnexpansion.com). To earn this amount of money, a factory worker in the plant in Pacheco, Argentina would need to work… 3,000 years. ..Yes.. Three millenniums.
The terrible Kraft recipe begins long before arriving at the factory. To make the chocolate, Kraft Foods acquires the raw materials from the Ivory Coast. At the plantations, according to the UNICEF reports, “there are millions of working children beaten, abused and exploited. What happens there is, purely and simply, called slavery.”
This is the real origin of the company’s earnings: millions of exploited farm workers, plundering of natural resources and the exploitation of the working class in 150 countries. In short, a curse of imperialism.
The president of the company, the poor Rosenfeld, states on the Kraft webpage: “ I want to be president of the United States” We don’t know if she’ll achieve it, but for now she’ll continue backing military coups in other countries.
In Honduras there is currently one, at this very moment, backed by the armed forces, the Church and major companies. One of the central supporters of the coup is the Honduran-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), who “expressed their support for the new president, Roberto Micheletti”. AMCHAM is presided over by City Bank, Walmart and, of course Kraft Honduras S.A.
In Argentina, Kraft is part of the local version of AMCHAM; they share the same leadership as Coca-Cola, Monsanto, General Motors and Ford, people who are always exited to make good a good deal, crushing whoever gets in the way.
Kraft was one of the companies boycotted by hundreds of antiwar organizations for supporting the imperialist government in the Iraq invasion. Wouldn’t it be a good time to repeat the policy?
Kraft arrived in Argentina in 2000, after buying out Nabisco. The company inherited part of the Terrabusi family enterprise, who have since dedicated themselves to raising pure bred horses and soy, but prior to that they made fortunes. When their billions were threatened, the Terrabusi family didn’t waste any time. In February of 1976 they founded COPAL, the Coordinator of Food Products that instigated the company lock out in February 1976, the precursor to the coup d’état in Argentina.
A thing of the past? Not at all. Today Jorge Zorreguieta the Secretary of Agriculture during the bloody dictatorship is head of COPAL, which is lead by Kraft and who has appointed Alberto Pizzi as vice-president of the organization.
We can say that the Kraft managers honor the traditions of the Social Club.
Worse than in the 90s
The last few years that Kraft and Nabisco bought out the Terrabusi businesses, the workers went from 8 million to 4 million. Far from decreasing, for this multinational company, business was increasing at the rhythm of production. They have thus been able to concentrate almost half of the cookie market and convert the Pacheco, Argentina plant in the most important factory, outside of the Untied States. This is why this battle, in the backyard of the empire, is so important.
The youth are the other sector, along with the women, who have been leaders in the latest grievances. They’re the ones who state: “the bosses are slave drivers, worse than in the 90s. That’s why we elected a team of delegates for each shift, in order to keep the management from going too far. Now the fired workers are standing firm, we’re going to keep the struggle going until the bosses give in.”
The youth and women are the ones confronting the Kraft Empire, resisting the firings, which are an attempt to get rid of the factory delegates, as well as any kind of union organization. They’re singing at every march, “these shitty Americans want to throw us out/ if they throw us out, what a battle they’re going to face.”
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