Monday, May 29

Richest 1% bagged 82% of wealth created last year – Says Oxfam

24 January 2018

Eighty two percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest one percent of the global population, while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth, according to a new Oxfam report released today.  The report is being launched as political and business elites gather for the  World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Reward Work, Not Wealth’  reveals how the global economy enables a wealthy elite to accumulate  vast fortunes while hundreds of millions of people are struggling to  survive on poverty pay. 

  • Billionaire wealth has risen  by an annual average of 13 percent since 2010 – six times faster than  the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of  just 2 percent. The number of billionaires rose at an unprecedented rate  of one every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.
  • It takes just four days for  a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a  Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime. In the US, it  takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary  worker makes in a year.
  • It would cost $2.2 billion a year to  increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a  living wage. This is about a third of the amount paid out to wealthy  shareholders by the top 5 companies in the garment sector in 2016.

Oxfam’s  report outlines the key factors driving up rewards for shareholders and  corporate bosses at the expense of workers’ pay and conditions. These  include the erosion of workers’ rights; the excessive influence of big  business over government policy-making; and the relentless corporate  drive to minimize costs in order to maximize returns to shareholders.

Winnie  Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International said: “The  billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a  failing economic system. The people who make our clothes, assemble our  phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply  of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire  investors.”

Women workers often find themselves off at the bottom  of the heap. Across the world, women consistently earn less than men and  are usually in the lowest paid and least secure forms of work. By  comparison, 9 out of 10 billionaires are men.

“Oxfam has spoken to  women across the world whose lives are blighted by inequality. Women in  Vietnamese garment factories who work far from home for poverty pay and  don’t get to see their children for months at a time. Women working in  the US poultry industry who are forced to wear nappies because they are  denied toilet breaks,” said Byanyima.

Oxfam is calling for governments to ensure our economies work for everyone and not just the fortunate few:

  • Limit  returns to shareholders and top executives, and ensure all workers  receive a minimum ‘living’ wage that would enable them to have a decent  quality of life. For example, in Nigeria, the legal minimum wage would  need to be tripled to ensure decent living standards.
  • Eliminate  the gender pay gap and protect the rights of women workers. At current  rates of change, it will take 217 years to close the gap in pay and  employment opportunities between women and men.
  • Ensure the  wealthy pay their fair share of tax through higher taxes and a crackdown  on tax avoidance, and increase spending on public services such as  healthcare and education. Oxfam estimates a global tax of 1.5 percent on  billionaires’ wealth could pay for every child to go to school.

Results  of a new global survey commissioned by Oxfam demonstrates a groundswell  of support for action on inequality. Of the 70,000 people surveyed in  10 countries, nearly two-thirds of all respondents think the gap between  the rich and the poor needs to be urgently addressed.

“It’s hard  to find a political or business leader who doesn’t say they are worried  about inequality. It’s even harder to find one who is doing something  about it.  Many are actively making things worse by slashing taxes and  scrapping labor rights,” said Byanyima.

“People are ready for  change. They want to see workers paid a living wage; they want  corporations and the super-rich to pay more tax; they want women workers  to enjoy the same rights as men; they want a limit on the power and the  wealth which sits in the hands of so few. They want action.”

© Oxfam International

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *