• Friday, April 12, 2024


BAME workers face ‘double whammy’ of losing working hours and jobs, says union body

BAME workers are three times more likely to have lost working hours during the pandemic. (Photo: DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images).

By: Sattwik Biswal

BLACK and minority ethnic (BAME) workers are three times more likely than white workers to have lost working hours during the pandemic, says a new TUC poll published on Friday (2).

The survey – carried out for the TUC by Britain Thinks – found that around 1 in 11 (9 per cent) BAME workers had their normal 35-48 hours a week cut back during the Covid-19 pandemic. Only 1 in 33 (3 per cent) white workers said their working hours were reduced.

Nearly 1 in 8 (13 per cent) BAME workers told the TUC that their hours were cut without them requesting it in the last 12 months, compared to 1 in 11 (9 per cent) of white workers. And 1 in 4 (25 per cent) BAME workers said they were now working between 1-24 hours a week, compared to 1 in 5 (20 per cent) white workers.

The poll also found that BAME workers were nearly twice as likely to say they’d had to take on more than one job in the last 12 months than white workers. Around 1 in 14 (7 per cent) BAME workers had more than one job during the past year, compared to just 1 in 25 (4 per cent) white workers.

Then the pressure to go to work as 1 in 5 (20 per cent) BAME respondents told the TUC they were worried that if they did not go into their workplace this would impact negatively on their status at work, for example in terms of their job security or their chances of getting a pay rise. In comparison, around 1 in 7 (14 per cent) white respondents had this concern.

Previous TUC analysis had revealed that the unemployment rate for BAME workers has risen three times as fast as the unemployment rate for white workers during the pandemic.

‘Double whammy’

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Covid-19 has shone a spotlight on the structural discrimination that has been hidden in our jobs market for too long.

“BAME workers have shouldered the burden of the pandemic. They’ve faced the double whammy of being more likely to be working in industries that have been hit hardest by unemployment. And it’s now clear they’ve also have been more likely than white workers to lose hours – and therefore pay. Too many BAME workers are having to take on second jobs now just to make ends meet.

“We know that BAME workers are more likely to be in low-paid, insecure work with less employment rights. Through the pandemic, many have paid for this discrimination by losing hours, jobs and wages. Tragically, many more have paid with their lives.

“Enough is enough. Everyone deserves a decent job, with decent pay and with decent terms and conditions. Ministers must address this inequality once and for all and challenge the structural discrimination that holds BAME workers back at every level of the labour market.”

Chair of the TUC anti-racism task force and NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach said: “This latest evidence comes on top of other data showing that black workers are bearing the brunt of precarious employment, zero-hours contracts and employers using ‘fire and rehire’ to drive down wages.

“With rates of unemployment rising fastest amongst black workers, we need to see urgent action from the government to tackle these inequalities and secure a recovery that works for everyone.

“It will also be important that employers consider and are held to account for how their decisions are impacting on black and white workers.”

Moreover, the union body is calling on the government to:

· Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and make employers publish action plans to ensure fair wages for BME workers in the workplace.

· Ban zero-hours contracts and strengthen the rights of insecure workers – which will have a disproportionate impact on BAME workers.

· Publish all the equality impact assessments related to its response to Covid-19 and be transparent about how it considers BME communities in policy decisions.

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