Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2775

Big bonuses for bosses in Fraser’s family household

Issue 2775
Protest at sports Dierect
Protest at Sports Direct (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, which owns Sports Direct, rammed a £100 ­million bonus scheme through its annual general meeting, despite even ­shareholders revolting.

The money was for its incoming chief executive, Michael Murray—despite having accepted millions of pounds in government support.

Murray, who is the fiance of Ashley’s daughter, is set to receive just over £100 ­million if Frasers’ share price hits £15 for 30 consecutive ­trading days in the four years from 7 October 2021.

This would come on top of his base salary of £1 million a year.

More than half of the independent shareholders in Frasers, which also owns House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, rejected the group’s plans. Frasers sought approval for the bonus at a sparsely attended annual meeting last week.

Only two independent shareholders made it to the 9am event in the group’s head office in Shirebrook, Derbyshire. But just over55 percent of independent shareholders voted against the group’s future remuneration policy, indicating disapproval of the bonus scheme.

Despite the protest vote, the measures were approved thanks to the backing of the group’s founder and chief executive, Mike Ashley, who owns almost two-thirds of Frasers’ shares.

Tax is for little people

Remember the inflated claims in June this year when the G7 meeting in Cornwall announced it had reached an agreement on ­taxing multinational ­companies properly?

The final agreement is due to be signed off this month at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development meeting. Nothing to fear for the bosses, as a new analysis from investigative group TaxWatch shows.

Tech giants will almost certainly end up paying less tax under the proposals put ­forward by the G7 than they are currently liable for under the digital services tax (DST).

Scrapping digital services taxes was a key demand of the United States in the negotiations for a new global tax deal.

In Britain, the current DST rate is 2 percent, and corporation tax is 19 percent. A company would have to have a profit margin of 62 percent in order to pay more in tax under the G7 proposals than under the DST.

Historically tech companies have never achieved these profit margins.

They party now and we pay later

In late spring this year, some powerful political figures met in a London restaurant with the CEO of Europe’s most valuable privately owned start-up.

The dinner was attended by the home secretary Priti Patel, broadcaster Andrew Neil and the former prime minister Tony Blair.

They were with Sebastian Siemiatkowski, the chief executive of buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm Klarna.

The gathering, paid for by Klarna, gave Siemiatkowski the chance to persuade his guests that plans to regulate the BNPL sector must not go too far.

In January, 70 MPs published a letter warning that BNPL firms could produce “the next Wonga”.

This was a reference to the now-defunct payday loans firm that was notorious for its punitive interest rates.

So far there has been no new regulation of the sector.

No questions for deliveroo

During the recent Labour conference shadow business minister Seema Malhotra addressed a fringe meeting for SME—small and medium enterprises—Labour.

She was joined by Deliveroo’s chief lobbyist Giles Derrington. Malhotra praised Deliveroo, which with £900 million revenue is not an SME.

During question time two councillors asked if Deliveroo’s model hurt small businesses such as takeaways.

The chair announced the meeting had run out of time.

Private hospitals have cashed in during the pandemic. Ramsay Health Care, which operates 35 hospitals in Britain is one example. In just the first four months of the pandemic, Ramsay made operating profits of £35.2 million, despite falling turnover.

This compares to £14 million in 2018-19. From late March 2020 onwards, Ramsay and other companies agreed to make their facilities available to the NHS in return for what it called “cost recovery… plus an amount relating to infrastructure costs”. But the NHS isn’t releasing the figures of how much.

The Tory welfare chief is drawing up plans to encourage more people who “think they cannot work” to find a job. Therese Coffey told Tory conference delegates the benefits system must stop “encouraging people to show how they really cannot do any work at all”.

This appears to mark a new push towards pushing people who claim disability or sickness payments towards work.

Rodents at heart of the financial system

Mr Goxx is dabbling in cryptocurrency, hoping to strike it rich.

He’s notable for two reasons. First, he is making money, with his lifetime career performance up about 20 percent, beating many professional traders and funds.

Second, Mr Goxx is a hamster.

The rodent has a “trading office” attached to his regular cage. Every day, when he enters the office, a livestream starts on Twitch, and his Twitter account lets followers know that Mr Goxx has started a trading session.

By running in his “intention wheel” he selects which cryptocurrency he’d like to trade, as the wheel spins through the different options. His office floor has two tunnels nearby—one for buy, one for sell.

Every time he runs through a tunnel, the electronics wired to his office complete a trade according to Mr Goxx’s desires.

Killer cops kill twice as many as claimed

A new study published in the medical magazine The Lancet has found that US “law enforcement” killed at least 30,800 people from 1980 to 2019.

The official figure was 13,700 deaths

Researchers say 55 percent of deaths from police violence were not reported or were mis-classified in official government databases.

These unreported killings represent more than 17,000 deaths at the hands of US police that were covered up.

The study, conducted at the University of Washington, also found a sharp increase in police killings.

During the 1980s the mortality rate associated with police violence was 0.25 per 100,000. By the 2010s the rate jumped up to 0.34 per 100,000—an increase of 38.4 percent.

The study noted that the under-counting was highest for non‑Hispanic black Americans, at 59.5 percent. This is followed by 56.1 percent for non‑Hispanic white people and 50 percent for Hispanic people. Black people in the US are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans.

Things they say

‘Shout out to a passer-by, run into a house, knock on a door, wave a bus down or call 999’

Metropolitan police advice if you are approached by a lone police officer

‘Women first of all need to be streetwise’

North Yorkshire commissioner Philip Allott gives advice after the sentencing of killer cop Couzens

‘Just learn a bit about that legal process’

Commissioner Allot continues to explain how not to be kidnapped and murdered

‘I will make something up. Who are they going to believe, me or you?’

Lancashire police officer arresting someone last year. He received a written warning last month

‘I don’t believe that the prime minister is responsible for what’s in the shops’

Liz Truss explains the economy

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance