Thursday, April 30, 2020

Global Revolution (or just a storm in a teacup?)

As I look back on the past eight years since we decided to start our own brand, there is an overwhelming feeling of failure. Sure, we have achieved our own goals, and in many ways we could never have predicted that in just a few short years we would be making our own watch parts and training machinists in Australia, but when it comes to revolution- or educating watch owners and the general public about injustice in watch the industry- our voices are silent.

There are a number of reasons why we have failed to keep the momentum going:

1. Being an activist and standing for something costs money and time. Lobbying is expensive.

2. We lack the very specific legal skills needed to help us shape our voice in the right direction.

3. We failed to see the bigger picture. Whilst the watchmaking industry is a perfect example of mega-brand oppression, there are a number of other industries far more important to the general public and Australian consumers. Being united is an absolute must.

4. We put all our money on one horse. Naively we mistakenly placed all our hopes on the ACCC (the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) and when they reacted impotently and disinterestedly and diluted the issue, overwhelmed- we quit, and we quit too soon.

So, what’s new, and what’s next?

All the pressure from big businesses and mega-brands is constantly increasing and our basic rights have been eroded. Eight years ago we talked about the right to repair, now we are talking about the freedom to make; freedom to advertise, design, and manufacture; and the right to compete fairly.

Even when the issues are not directly affecting us we are shocked with the arrogance of multinational corporations like Google and Facebook that now make open threats to the Australian Government and Australian consumers if they are not left alone to run their business in a way that suits only their needs.

At a time where we are about to lose local and metropolitan newspapers - unable to compete with online media which is practically stealing their content and making a profit from their hard labour - there is serious concern that the ACCC’s efforts to curb those mega enterprises plans will ultimately fail at both Federal Court and High Court. We don’t have to guess what the future will look like anymore. In the United States, Google and Facebook have already devastated print media, leading to the closure of companies across the US after collapsing advertising revenues, rapid circulation declines, dramatically depleting local coverage, and wiping out thousands of media industry jobs.

Eight years ago, no one would have predicted this as even a remote possibility.

For that reason alone, we should not sit tight. Your industry might be next.

The fist of resistance is your fist holding your tool. Your slogan might be different to ours but our goals are the same.

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