Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of NASUWT and head of the TUC’s Anti-racism Taskforce, has spoken out about the “hostile environment” BAME workers face in the UK.
A recent poll of over 2,000 workers by Britain Thinks found that BAME workers have been harder hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in a multitude of ways and the TUC says there is evidence BAME workers are being put in harm’s way.
More than a third – 35% – have been forced to self-isolate, compared with 24% of white workers; 36% say their employer has done a risk-assessment of their workplace, compared with 49% of white workers; and 23% reported experiencing abuse at work compared with 16% of white workers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, BAME workers also reported much higher stress levels than their white colleagues during the pandemic, with 88% saying they had concerns about returning to work, compared with 78% of white workers.
“There is a hostile environment for Black workers today which means they are more likely to face discrimination in the workplace, to be in insecure jobs, and more likely to be dismissed from work,” Dr Roache said.
“And, during the pandemic we have also seen how racial discrimination has resulted in Black workers being much more likely to die at work as a result of Coronavirus.”
General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, accused the government of being “careless” over BAME lives.
“BME workers are more likely to be exposed to the virus, less likely to work in Covid-Secure workplaces, and therefore more likely to be plunged into hardship if they have to self-isolate,” she said.
“BME workers – and all workers – should be entitled to decent sick pay when they have to self-isolate, and to safe workplaces.
“The government should act to rid the UK of the low wage insecure jobs that keep many BME workers in poverty and put them at higher risk from the virus. And it should set out a real commitment to ending systemic racism and discrimination.”