The rich have been getting richer as millions of people struggle to come to terms with the economic hardships brought about by the pandemic. Billionaires in the US have swelled their net worth by over $1 tn during the pandemic while their workers’ struggle for hazard pay has proved ineffective.
Exponential Increase in Wealth
Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, saw his net worth increase by over $70bn during the pandemic. His total worth stands at nearly $185bn now.
In the same vein, the founder of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, witnessed a huge upsurge in his wealth during the coronavirus pandemic, overtaking Jeff Bezos as the richest person in the world with a net worth of $195bn. His value increased by over $140bn.
In spite of this, these companies are some of the worst offenders when it comes to the welfare of workers. Workers at Amazon have protested against the unsafe working conditions, with several of them alleging that they were fired in retaliation. On their part, Tesla defied lockdown orders and sent out emails to employees threatening that they would lose unemployment benefits if they didn’t show up for work.
Working Without Hazard Pay
A warehouse employee at Amazon in Baltimore, Maryland, has spoken about their experience with the company during the pandemic.
“What they considered hazard pay was just for show. We couldn’t see a difference unless we were willing to work almost 60 hours a week. Several of us had no choice because we’re the breadwinners of our family. It’s infuriating that we live in fear every day because of minimal efforts to protect us, while executives take in tons of money while sitting safely at home.” The worker requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.
A Tesla employee also said, “Nothing has changed. Musk can afford to do so much more, and he doesn’t. I find it sickening to see how much Elon Musk’s wealth has grown while we take all the risks.”