It has been revealed that some of Britain’s richest bosses and most notorious capitalists have been among those to benefit from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The Scheme was set up by Boris Johnson’s government in March, ostensibly to prevent mass layoffs and redundancies arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown measures.
Under the scheme rules employers can claim grants for 80% of an employee’s normal salary up to a maximum of £2,500 a month while they are furloughed.
The Tory backing Sunday Times revealed that at least 63 of those feature on their famous ‘Rich List’ had received government grants under the Scheme. The Rich List is an annual survey of the wealthiest people resident in the United Kingdom.
5 of the list’s top 10 were found to own companies that have furloughed workers during the pandemic. This included Jim Ratcliffe, boss of petrochemical firm INEOS and owner of a luxury hotel group.
Jim Ratcliffe, despite modelling himself as a self-made businessman, has been a long term recipient of tax payer cash. Ratcliffe held the Scottish Government to ransom back in 2013 threatening to close the Grangemouth refinery, bringing the country to a standstill in the process, unless he received £9 million grant and government backing for a £145 million loan.
INEOS received a further £230 million government loan in 2014 to build shale gas processing facilities at Grangemouth. Ratcliffe’s Petroineos venture is now reportedly seeking an emergency government loan of £500 million.
INEOS are also keen advocates of fracking, importing fracked shale gas from the US and lobbying hard for licences to frack in Scotland’s Central Belt.
INEOS’ Middlesborough manufacturing plant had no fewer than 176 violations of anti-pollutions rules between 2014 and 2017. At the time INEOS stated they couldn’t “justify” the expenditure needed to comply with environmental regulations.
The infamous Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct, rank 75th on the Rich List, also benefitted under the Scheme. Sports Direct are widely known as one of Britain’s worst major employers along with Amazon for their abusive use of zero hours contracts and appalling working conditions.
There have been claims in the media that Sports Direct have even been requiring staff to work despite being furloughed – in direct contravention of the Scheme rules and potentially fraudulent. Mr Ashley’s malign influence at Newcastle United FC, which he stills owns, and Rangers FC, in which he used to have a significant shareholding, is also well know.
YCL General Secretary Johnnie Hunter stated that “The abuse of the Furlough Scheme by some of Britain’s biggest monopolies and most exploitative bosses is a complete scandal.
“It is clear evidence of the priorities of this Tory Government and the parasitic nature of capitalism in Britain.
“While government efforts to protect jobs and income are welcome, the efforts of Boris Johnson and the Chancellor have been too little and came too late.
The YCL General Secretary questioned “Why were some of the richest and most powerful firms and individuals in Britain handed billions in taxpayer money with no questions asked and no strings attached?
“Clearly this money should have been conditional on a complete ban on redundancies during and after the pandemic, guarantees on pay and conditions and a commitment to creating jobs and manufacturing in Britain.
He concluded: “This is yet another example of the capitalist class holding a knife to the throat of Britain’s economy while their Tory enforcers make sure that working people pay up.”
Challenge News Desk