• Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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TUC: BME workers are overrepresented on zero-hours contracts

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By: Pramod Thomas

THE new Trades Union Congress (TUC) report published on Wednesday (9) revealed that black and minority ethnic (BME) women are twice as likely to be on zero-hours contracts as white men (4.7 per cent compared to 2.4 per cent).

Overall, BME workers are overrepresented on zero-hours contracts compared to white workers (4.3 per cent compared to 3 per cent), the report added.

Based on the findings, TUC warned that insecure work is “tightening the grip” of structural racism on the labour market and deepening gender inequalities.

According to the analysis, BME women are the most disproportionately affected group, followed by BME men (4.7 per cent compared to 4 per cent). Also, white women are also significantly more likely than white men to be on zero-hours contracts (3.6 per cent compared to 2.4 per cent).

BME Workers
(Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images).

The ONS data revealed that over one million workers are now on zero-hours contracts – which equates to a rise of 40,000 compared to the previous year.

Under zero-hours contracts workers never know how much they will earn each week, and their income is subject to the whims of managers.

The union body pointed out that this makes it hard for workers to plan their lives, look after their children and get to medical appointments. Besides, it makes it harder for workers to challenge unacceptable behaviour by bosses.

According to TUC, BME workers are over-represented in insecure jobs, which have limited rights, and face disproportionately high Covid-19 mortality rates as well as low pay.

Recent TUC analysis found BME unemployment rates are still more than twice the rates for white workers. Around 1 in 12 BME women are now unemployed compared to around 1 in 29 white workers.

The new analysis stated that working mums took on the lion’s share of childcare during the pandemic when the schools closed. Besides, women are more likely to be in some of the key frontline jobs, like social care, that have faced higher risk from Covid-19 during the crisis. They were also largely employed in the hardest-hit sectors like retail and hospitality.

General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Frances O'Grady
General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Frances O’Grady (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Insecure work is endemic in modern Britain, with more than a million people still having to rely on zero-hours contracts to make ends meet. We need to end the scourge of insecure work once and for all. That’s how you start to tackle the structural racism that holds BME workers back.

The government must publish its long-overdue employment bill and ban exploitative practices like zero-hours contracts. And it must place a duty on employers to measure and report on their ethnicity pay gap.”

The TUC has called for a ban on zero-hours contracts and decent notice of shifts and compensation for cancelled shifts. It also urged to introduce ethnicity pay gap reporting to expose pay disparities BME workers face so that employers face pressure to act and reduce the pay gap.

The TUC women’s conference started online on Wednesday and will discuss topics such as insecure work and BME women in the jobs market, a statement said.

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