GetUp! is a lot of things—a grassroots movement, a maker of savagely funny viral videos, a punk band that masquerades as a legitimate political organisation—but what they certainly are not are paragons of sense and order. Clearly, the left-leaning group’s inexperience was painfully laid bare for all to see when they lost their bid to pressure the Woolworths Board into holding an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) with some of their two-hundred-and-plus shareholders to discuss the matter of converting all of the Woolies’ pokie machines into receiving only a maximum bet of one-dollar-a-spin.
The whole debacle between the two disparate entities started when about a group of Woolies shareholders—all two-hundred and fifty-seven, according to GetUp!—partnered with the activist group to help pressure Woolworths into changing its company’s constitution in allowing a $1 maximum bet on the fresh food giant’s twelve thousand pokie machines nationwide. The way in which the group chose to do this is by signing around a petition which will allow them, as per the Corporations Act, the right to call the board for an EGM if one-hundred shareholders collectively agree for the meeting to be held. Woolies, on the other hand, asked help from the federal court to delay the EGM and, instead, move the whole thing on their annual shareholders’ meeting this coming November.
By citing the huge expenses that the corporation will have to rack up if the EGM will ever take place, the court then granted the decision in favour of Woolworths.
However, despite the obvious setback suffered by GetUp!, Simon Sheik, the director of the organisation, is still bizarrely positive about the whole thing. He said in a statement, “We will use the coming months to make sure that Woolworths and its investors understand the loss as a result of this company’s behaviour and its use of high-loss pokie machines.”
Woolworths, on the other hand, was modestly happy about the outcome. As its spokesperson, Simon Berger, had said, the company’s “commitment to being the most responsible operator of hotels in the country” is paramount rather than caving in to the calls of a few select people. “Two hundred of them signed this petition but there are 422,000 other shareholders who didn’t,” he pointed out, but he also acknowledged that the whole pokies debacle is “a very real issue for them and for our company the issue of problem gambling.” Having said that, they are not planning to retaliate against GetUp!’s unfortunate “stunt”. Now, how’s that for corporate responsibility?