Dr Gilad Isaacs, a researcher at Wits says the Oxfam report highlights that wealth accumulated isn't based on people's efforts but on cronyism, etc. Picture: Noni Mokati
Johannesburg - World leaders have been called to address vast levels of inequality in the labour sector.

And as many of them gather in Davos, Switzerland on Monday in all their splendour and glory to table policies at the World Economic Forum conference, the international federation of non-profit organisation Oxfam says it would be in their interest to rapidly prioritise gaps that exist between low paid workers and those in top management.

An international report launched by Oxfam today reveals that workers across the world continue to receive low wages despite working hard while their bosses net millions in salaries proving the old age that 'the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.'

"Last year saw the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history with one more billionaire every two days. There are now 2403 billionaires worldwide...by the end of the 4-day Davos meeting, billionaires fortunes could have swelled by an estimated $8 billion. This is enough money to lift 66 million people globally out of poverty for the years," Oxfam South Africa executive director Siphokazi Mthathi said adding by the end of 2017 the number of African billionaires had increased from eight in 2010 to 25 last year.


Mthathi was speaking in Braamfontein on Monday morning where Oxfam SA made its own evaluations on the report.

She added it takes about 4.58 days for the best-paid executive at a South African corporate company to earn what a temporary farm worker at the vineyards will earn in their lifetime.

"We need to set basic frameworks that will tackle inequality," Mthathi said. 

Statistics have shown that in South Africa, the top 10 percent of society receives half of all wage income while the bottom 50% of the workforce receive just 12% of all wages.


Meanwhile, Dr Gilad Isaacs, a researcher at Wits University said while the country's minimum wage, set to take effect from  May 1 this year has been tabled, is imperfect in its current form and not a silver bullet in the labour market.

"If we allow minimum wage to increase at a slow rate, we will not succeed in reducing inequality," he said

Oxfam SA's head of justice Thembinkosi Dlamini pointed out that much attention was needed when coming to issues of gender equality as many women played a vital role in contributing towards the country's economy.

He spoke of instances where in the poultry sector some women have had to wear nappies as they are not allowed toilet breaks saying conducive working environments had to be created for them. 

Some local retailers and corporates have come under fire for paying workers less while executives pocket millions in profits made. 


The Oxfam report which was released under theme 'Reward Work, Not Wealth' further highlighted that all over the world the economy of one percent of people is built on the backs of low paid workers.

To end the inequality crisis, Oxfam said countries should build economies for ordinary working people and not for the rich and powerful.

"Oxfam has calculated that approximately two-thirds of billionaire wealth is the product of inheritance monopoly and cronyism," the report read.

It recommended among other things that governments and corporate companies eliminate gender pay gaps, use taxation to reduce extreme wealth, eradicate the use of tax havens and share profits with the poorest of workers.

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