“..Just…”

Such a simple little adverb.
It has been applied a lot lately when the very real concerns around the stability of  jobs and shift security for countdown staff are bought up.
Pro-boycotters argue that:

“They can just get new jobs..”
“Demand will just go up in other supermarkets..”
New world and Pak’n’Save will just hire them..”

The same applies when the pro-boycott types are asked,
“But what about the suppliers to Countdown? What happens when the stores are forced to reduce orders to reflect a downturn in sales..?”

Can you guess the typical response?

“But they’ll just sell to other stores..”
“Other supermarkets will just pick up the slack..”

Before we go further, let’s remind ourselves of the definition of “just’ in this form.
Taken from Dictionary.com –

1) within a brief preceding time; but a moment before:

2) exactly or precisely:

3) only or merely:

4) actually; really; positively:The use of the word ‘just’ in this sense has come to be nothing more than a condescension. A way to belittle the welfare of the people who are really feeling the pinch – the front line staff and suppliers who will be seeing orders drop.
The word ‘just’ in this sense completely ignores the reality of economics.
In real life, transfer of employment or sales of goods and services take time. It is not instantaneous. And equal or improved replacement of your previous arrangement is never guaranteed. I don’t have a qualification in economics or business, and even I know this.
Do you know who does have a degree in economics? The creator of the Boycott Countdown facebook page, Nevan Lancaster.

Mr Lancaster has owned a small business in Tauranga for a number of years -so perhaps he considers himself an expert? But there is a notable difference between a small, privately owned business and a large, multinational business such as Countdown.
He also believes that Countdown sends “100%” of its profits back to Australia retaining none in NZ.
CD heaps of money wp

When the “Boycott the Boycotter Bullies” facebook page was set up he spent quite a lot of time over the course of a couple of days posting ‘evidence’ and arguing for his cause, seemingly put out that someone dared voice an opinion differing to his.
One such claim of ‘evidence’ was the posting of a link for a recent Woolworths annual report where he insisted you could find the proof to show that 100% of profits were sent to Australia.
funnily enough, nowhere in the report does it say “100% of profits from Countdown stores’ earnings goes to Australia, leaving none in New Zealand.”

Which brings us back to that seemingly insignificant word, “Just..”.
A big fan of the ‘just’ word is Mr Lancaster. He’s used it over and over in the course of arguments for boycotting the supermarket chain.

Here he is rationalising how CD workers can ‘just’ get hired by rival supermarkets or that if the chain is bought out by another company it will retain all staff. He also addresses in the same post the concern suppliers will be affected and attempts to refute this with another ‘just’ scenario.  Source

My question is: How can a person who has studied economics truly believe these things would instantaneously happen and that everyone who was at risk would end up with new jobs and orders while not being affected at all in the meantime – or at least not significantly enough to be detrimental?

To begin with Countdown pays significantly better than other supermarkets – so any staff who transferred to another chain would ‘just’ have to accept a paycut and possibly less hours. Simple! What’s the problem?
Economics – that’s the problem.

In the event the CD chain was sold there is no guarantee they would keep on all staff. According to the Ministry of Business and Development, although any new owner of a sold business must by law retain any existing contracts between staff and their old employer there is no law that they must not lay off any staff. If they can justify this action no one can prevent them from doing so. They may site ‘restructuring’, for example. Economics once again!
Furthermore, there is no guarantee employees and suppliers would be satisfied with the new owners and how they might run the business.

All these suppositions are up in the air. In the meantime, staff (and suppliers) are still being affected now.

Perhaps Mr. Lancaster needs to go back and up skill. Things have changed just slightly since 1991, when he graduated.

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