International Retailers I, Robot.
Sticking with Walmart, 17,000 Walmart workers in Chile went on an indefinite strike last week, demanding to be compensated for the multitasking required by the business’ increase in automation. Increased automation “isn’t Walmart’s idea, it’s the way our clients have decided to shop,” said a spokesperson for Walmart, with breath-taking disingenuity. Tesco, in the meantime, despite recent travails, is going large, expanding to the tune of several hundred new stores in its second biggest market… anyone? Thailand! Where it already has 1,500 express convenience stores and about 400 larger shops under its Tesco Lotus brand. And back in the UK, Aldi are responding to growing demand with the launch of a range called, with striking boldness, ‘I Am Vegan’
Comment: Re: Walmart, automation should not simply be accepted as a global public good which frees up workers to spend more time with their families or read Proust in beautiful public parks. For many, it’s a bind and a threat, and a product of an increasingly unpopular system which touts profits first and people last.