The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) denounced this Friday the differences that European companies are making between their shareholders and their employees, by paying dividends to the former in the face of inflation and, however, denying workers a sufficient wage increase.
The unions indicated that the value of payouts to shareholders increased by 28.6% in the EU during the second quarter of this year, according to the Janus Henderson Global Dividend Index.
The increase “is more than seven times faster than the rate at which wages are growing in the EU” (3.8%), the unions said.
The European Trade Union Confederation published today a table with the dividends in European companies and the growth of salaries that reflects differences between countries.
For example, in Spain the dividends paid to shareholders grew by 97.7% in the second quarter of the year, while the increase in wages expected in 2022 compared to 2021 is 3.3%.
In Germany, dividends increased between April and June by 36.3%, while wages are expected to grow by 3.4% this year.
In Belgium, dividend growth was 25% in the second quarter and the expected increase in wages is around 5.9%.
The figures show “how excessive corporate profits, not wages, are driving inflation, the European Central Bank claims,” the unions said.
The gap between the rates at which dividends are paid and wages is also contributing to the share of GDP that workers, rather than CEOs or shareholders, receive falling across Europe.
At the same time, corporations are not investing for the future, with private investment still below pre-pandemic levels, they noted.
For this reason, the unions called on European governments to establish a tax on excessive profits, measures to curb dividends and to support collective bargaining as the best way for workers to obtain fair compensation.
ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch noted that the figures show “once again that there is one rule for the rich and one for the poor”.
“It’s a double insult because corporations fail to give workers a decent pay raise while further devaluing their existing wages by fueling inflation,” Lynch said.
“It’s time to end this scam. We need a surplus profits tax and fair wage increases for workers,” he stressed.