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Article

Cashing in on the coronavirus crisis: 5 ways in which corporations are exacerbating inequality

10 September 2020

As the 6-month mark of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches... the economic fallout has been... devastating, with 400 million jobs lost and a half a billion people are expected to be pushed into poverty. But not everyone is losing out.

According to new Oxfam research, 32 of the world’s largest companies stand to see their profits jump by $109 billion more in 2020. Indeed, the pandemic has laid bare for all to see a rigged economic model that has allowed the world’s largest corporations to make billions of dollars at the expense of low wage workers, funneling profits to shareholders, a small group of largely men... Here are five ways in which corporations are cashing in on the back of the new coronavirus:

  1. Flexing their lobbying muscles... Companies successfully lobbied against the closure of their operations despite significant health risks to their workers. .... [and] for tax benefits...
  2. Shifting costs and risks Ten of the world’s largest apparel brands paid 74% of their profits (a total of $21 billion) to their shareholders in dividends and stock buybacks in 2019. This year millions of apparel workers have lost their jobs because companies cancelled orders and refused to pay their suppliers...
  3. Avoiding taxes Several companies with a history of tax avoidance are being bailed out with taxpayer money...
  4. Prioritizing payouts Several major US companies stuck to shareholder payout plans despite requesting government bailouts or laying off employees.
  5. Putting workers at risk Food retailers have faced a backlash from employees for insufficient health and safety protection... Migrant workers in Qatar... have suffered from salary delays and layoffs, in addition to overcrowded living conditions, limited health precautions and no sick pay. Food delivery companies have been accused of not providing adequate protection for their drivers, who have been left vulnerable to the pandemic as most have limited access to unemployment benefits, health insurance or sick leave...