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Richard Branson

Coronavirus: Billionaires face anger for “abandoning” staff

The billionaire owners of big businesses are facing anger for failing to protect their staff from the economic consequences of coronavirus.

Virgin Atlantic, founded and part-owned by billionaire Richard Branson, this morning announced that it plans to ground 75% of its fleet by 26th March – adding that staff will be asked to take eight weeks unpaid leave during the next three months.

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However, as one Twitter user has pointed out, Branson is wealthy enough to pay all 8,500 Virgin Atlantic employees over £40,000, and still keep 90% of his £4.5 billion fortune.

Indeed, governments across the world are announcing increasingly radical measures to protect workers against the economic consequences of coronavirus.

Today, for example, the Norwegian government said it would provide full pay for 20 days to those who’ve been temporarily laid off due to coronavirus.

However, there is a legitimate question to be posed about where this money should come from. As Astead Herndon of the New York Times tweeted earlier today:

So, in the absence of billionaire philanthropy, surely governments must consider how they can raise money – to prevent families from falling into poverty – from people who can most afford it.

Coronavirus has exposed the flaws of our greed-driven capitalist system. We need to act quickly, or else millions of people will be dragged into economic hardship through this pandemic.


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