Oxfam highlights sharp inequality as Davos elite gathers

Oxfam is highlighting growing global inequality at this week's WEF gathering in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos. (AP)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Oxfam highlights sharp inequality as Davos elite gathers

DAVOS: A CEO from one of the world’s top five global fashion brands has to work for just four days to earn what a garment worker in Bangladesh will earn in an entire lifetime, campaigning group Oxfam International said Monday.
In the run-up to the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Oxfam has sought to put inequality at the heart of this week’s deliberations of the rich and powerful.
“The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director. “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.”
In its report “Reward Work, Not Wealth,” Oxfam says 82 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest 1 percent of the global population while the poorest half of the world’s population — 3.7 billion people — saw no increase in their wealth.
Billionaire wealth, it added, has risen by an annual average of 13 percent since 2010, over six times more than the wages of average workers, and the number of billionaires rose at an astonishing rate of one every two days in the year to March 2017.
Oxfam listed a series of actions government should take, including limiting returns to shareholders and top executives, ensuring workers receive a minimum “living wage” and pushing through policies to eliminate the gender pay gap and protect the rights of women workers. It also urged a clampdown on tax avoidance and other associated practices, which have been highlighted by the recent publication of the “Panama Papers” and the “Paradise Papers.”
Oxfam, which has sought for several years sought to highlight the problem of inequality on the eve of the World Economic Forum, said that without action, the populist and nationalist tides around the world will only become more acute.
“We’ve seen a shift in narrative in terms of what people say, but we haven’t seen action to match those words,” said Nick Bryer, Oxfam’s Davos campaign manager.
Governments, he said, need to “get back into the driving seat” and challenge the big corporations and the billionaires.
“There’s plenty they can do,” he said.
While conceding that the efforts of Oxfam and other civil society groups have yet to force substantive change among governments, Bryer said it’s important that they carry on delivering the message to the rich and powerful at events like the World Economic Forum, a gathering that’s perceived by many as solely serving the needs of the global elite.
“People are realizing that shocks are fueled by inequalities,” he said.
Oxfam’s findings are based on the annual Global Wealth Databook of Swiss bank Credit Suisse, and Forbes’ billionaire ranking series


Flight rights group takes Ryanair to court over strike compensation

Updated 38 min 18 sec ago
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Flight rights group takes Ryanair to court over strike compensation

  • Ryanair had to cancel around 1 in 6 flights last week due to a walk-out by pilots in five European countries
  • The disruption affected 55,000 travelers

BERLIN: German passenger rights company Flightright is taking Ryanair to court over whether it should pay financial compensation to passengers affected by strikes at Europe’s largest low-cost carrier.
Ryanair had to cancel around 1 in 6 flights on Friday due to a walk-out by pilots in five European countries, disrupting an estimated 55,000 travelers.
The worst affected country was Germany, where 250 flights affected around 42,000 passengers.
EU rules state that passengers can claim monetary compensation of up to €400 for flights within the region for canceled or delayed flights, unless the reason is extraordinary circumstances, such as bad weather.
Strikes have generally fallen under extraordinary circumstances although a ruling by the European Court of Justice in April said that a wildcat strike by staff at German airline TUIfly following a restructuring could not be classed as extraordinary circumstances. Flightright said it believes Ryanair is therefore obliged to pay monetary compensation to customers and so has filed a complaint with a court in Frankfurt in a bid to clarify the rules around strikes.
A spokeswoman for the court said she was aware of the Flightright statement, but that she had not yet seen the complaint.
Ryanair said it fully complies with the European legislation on the matter, known as EU261.
“Under EU261 legislation, no compensation is payable when the union is acting unreasonably and totally beyond the airline’s control. If this was within our control, there would be no cancelations,” a spokesman said.
Passenger rights groups such as Flightright help passengers to claim compensation from airlines under EU261 rules but in exchange for a share of the compensation received.
Many European airlines, including Ryanair, therefore urge passengers to file claims with them directly instead.