by Maria Nikolajeva
As everyone knows, Mr Willy Wonka owns the largest and most remarkable chocolate factory in the world.
Like all capitalists, Willy Wonka has a load of problems. He must keep inventing new chocolate flavours to assert his place in the market. His worst anxiety is industrial espionage, since other chocolate producers are trying to get hold of his secrets. Willy Wonka does not trust his employees and eventually makes them redundant. Instead, he imports guest workers from the third world and makes them toil for miserable wages under inhuman conditions, drugged by cocoa beans. Mr Wonka has no scruples. His only goal is profit. He does not care about consumers either, children who suffer from obesity and bad teeth.
Mr Wonka is getting old, but he has no children to take over his life project. Through a smart, albeit cruel test he finds a little boy who inherits the factory. And they live happily ever after, if we are to believe Roald Dahl.
Yet Mr Wonka has miscalculated. He should have made the spoilt upper-class Veruca Salt his heiress, the one who always has everything her way, whatever the cost.
Charlie, in contrast, comes from a working-class family. He knows what it means to be poor and hungry, and he knows the difference between right and wrong. Under his leadership, Wonka chocolate factory will go through a total transformation.
Charlie will obtain residence and work permit for his employees, with further promise of citizenship. He will allow governmental inspection of the factory. He will encourage Oompa-Loompas to build unions and unemployment funds, and he will arrange workshop on equal opportunities and health and safety. He will pay union-approved wages and employer’s fees so that the diligent little creatures get state pensions with all benefits. Everybody will be guaranteed health services and annual paid vacation. Working environment will be improved, ergonomic equipment purchased, and flexible working schedules applied.
A major health programme will be implemented to deal with the employees’ drug addition. Every Oompa-Loompa will be entitled to an hour a week of exercise paid by the employer. Maternity leave will be extended. All Oompa-Loompa children will attend school and receive extra training in their native language.
Charlie is also highly conscious about third-world help. Willy Wonka’s marvelous invention, chewing-gum meal, will be exported to all countries in the world threatened by hunger. There will also be charity concerts for obese children. Every year, a Wonka award will be given to the best dentist.
The price of chocolate will inevitably go up with all these extra costs, but the consumers will naturally be prepared to pay more for ecological products where no slave labour has been used and no animals have suffered. Moreover, all Charlie Wonka products are sugar free and low fat and carry a warning about sweets being dangerous for your health.
Whether the taste of chocolate will be affected remains to be seen. But the story of the chocolate factory will never be as entertaining as in Willy Wonka’s time.