New Delhi: Top executives across four countries – India, the UK, the US and South Africa – received a 9% percent pay hike in 2022, while workers’ wages fell 3.19% during the same period, reveals a new analysis from Oxfam.
The figures, adjusted for inflation, are based on the latest data from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and government statistics agencies.
One billion workers in 50 countries took an average pay cut of $685 in 2022, a collective loss of $746 billion in real wages, compared to if wages had kept up with inflation, the Oxfam report added.
Oxfam International’s interim executive director, Amitabh Behar, said “While corporate bosses are telling us we need to keep wages down, they’re giving themselves and their shareholders massive payouts. Most people are working longer for less and can’t keep up with the cost of living. Years of austerity and attacks on trade unions have widened the gap between the richest and the rest of us. On a day meant to celebrate the working class [May 1, International Labour Day], this glaring inequality is both shocking and sadly unsurprising.”
In India, what a single Indian executive makes in just four hours is more than what an average worker earns in a year, found Oxfam’s analysis of corporate and survey data for 2022.
It added that 150 of the top-paid executives in India received $1 million on average in 2022, a real-term pay rise of 2% since 2021.
The report also said that women and girls are putting in at least 380 billion hours of unpaid care work every month.
This is a cause for concern because unpaid care work remains invisible and is mostly shouldered by women and girls. In addition, women workers often have to reduce their number of paid working hours or drop out of the workforce altogether because of their unpaid care workload.
“This [rise in unpaid care work] incredibly hard and valuable work is done for free at home and in the community,” said Behar.
They also continue to face gender-based discrimination, harassment, and less pay for work of equal value as men.
Overall, shareholder dividends hit a record $1.56 trillion in 2022, a 10% real-term growth compared to 2021. Exorbitant shareholder payouts benefit the richest in society, exacerbating already high levels of inequality.
However, Oxfam’s analysis shows that taxes on capital gains, which can help fund public services like healthcare and education, have fallen to an average of 18%, and that one in five countries do not even tax them at all.
“Workers are tired of being treated like sacrificial lambs every time a crisis hits. Neoliberal logic blames inflation on everyone except profiteering corporations. Governments should stop relying only on interest rate hikes and austerity that we know hurts ordinary people, particularly those living in poverty. Instead, they should introduce top rates of tax of at least 75 percent on super-rich corporate bosses to discourage sky-high executive pay, and windfall taxes on excessive corporate profits. They must also ensure minimum wages keep up with inflation, and that everyone has the right to unionize, strike and bargain collectively,” said Behar.