TUC: institutional racism exists in the UK labour market and society

  • 31 Mar 2021

Commenting on the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary said:  

“Institutional and structural racism exists in the UK, in both the labour market and wider society.  

“Black and minority ethnic workers are far more likely than white workers to be in low-paid, insecure jobs – such as temporary and agency jobs or zero hours contracts. And black and minority ethnic workers have been far more likely to be exposed to Covid infection and far more likely to die – because they are far more likely to be in frontline roles. 

“This is institutional racism. And it traps too many Black and Minority Ethnic workers in poverty, insecurity and low pay.  We hoped that the Commission would recommend action to stamp out insecure work and make employers act to close their ethnicity pay gaps.  Instead, the Commission has chosen to deny the experiences of black and minority ethnic workers and be complacent about the UK’s progress towards being an anti-racist society.  

“The TUC calls on politicians of all parties to stand with black and minority ethnic workers and commit to ending institutional racism in the UK labour market and society – starting with bringing in mandatory ethnicity pay gap action plans and banning zero hours contracts.”    

The TUC has launched an anti-racism task force, chaired by Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, to tackle the structural racism with the labour market – and wider society. The task force will lead the trade union movement’s renewed campaign against racism at work. It will engage with Black workers across the UK to hear about their experiences. And it will produce recommendations on tackling structural racism in the UK, in workplaces and in unions themselves. Patrick Roach’s blog about the purpose and aims of the TUC’s anti-racism task force

Evidence of institutional racism in the UK labour market  

  • 1 in 6 (16%) BME workers are employed on insecure terms and conditions, compared to 1 in 10 (10%) white workers. 
  • Male BME workers 57% more likely to be employed in jobs with a higher male mortality rate than white male workers. And female BME workers 48% more likely than female white workers to be employed in an occupation with a higher female mortality rate.  
  • Previous TUC analysis revealed that BME people are far more likely to be in jobs with higher coronavirus mortality rates than white people, such as security guards, carers, nurses and drivers: www.tuc.org.uk/news/bme-workers-have-been-asked-shoulder-more-risk-during-pandemic-says-tuc 
  • In England, based on a statistical model adjusting for age and excluding care home residents, the rate of death among Black African males was 3.8 times higher than those of White background, while for Black African females the rate was 2.9 times higher; all ethnic groups other than Chinese females were at higher risk of COVID-19 mortality than the White ethnic population (ONS) 
  • Additional TUC analysis revealed that BME unemployment is rising twice as fast as white workers during pandemic.


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