On 18 April, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) published an open letter. 36 union leaders sent this to Boris Johnson. It served as a joint condemnation of the government’s recent racism report – the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities. For them, the report had “understated both the challenge and the scale of change required”. And they stressed that:
Black and Minority Ethnic [BME] workers experience systemic inequalities across the labour market, which we consider the result of structural and institutional discrimination.
They also added that “the UK’s trade union movement repudiates this report”. This was, among other reasons, because the latter chose “to deny the experiences of BME workers”.
Clear, systemic inequalities
The letter described how:
BME workers are overrepresented in lower paid, insecure jobs and have to send 60 per cent more job applications to be invited to interview. Currently, the BME unemployment rate is running at almost double that of white workers. And BME workers in London, the region with the highest BME population, experience a 24 per cent pay gap.
These inequalities are compounded by the direct discrimination BME people face within workplaces: around a quarter (24 per cent) had been singled out for redundancy and one in seven (15 per cent) of those that had experienced racist harassment at work said they left their job as a result.
It also stressed that “there is no conflict between defending working class interests and pushing for equality for BME workers”. Because “today’s working class is multiethnic and multifaith”, it said, fighting for all workers’ rights “will disproportionately benefit BME workers”.
“Recognise the insult”
The leaders then concluded by calling for the full implementation of recommendations from previous reports. And they said:
We hope ministers will reflect on the inadequacies of the report of the Commission for Racial Disparities, recognise the insult it has offered to BME workers, and pick a different path.
Main article image via Kaihsu