Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. Photo: Judy Beishon
Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. Photo: Judy Beishon

Nandi Shalita, Tower Hamlets Socialist Party

Statistics recently published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) show unemployment among black and minority ethnic (BAME) people was at 6.9% in 2022, over double the unemployment rate of white people – 3.2%. The unemployment rate of BAME women is almost three times higher than that of white men.

It shines a clear light on the issue of racial discrimination not just in the workplace, but also the hiring processes of employers. While job hunting in the past, I have found I’m more likely to hear back from a workplace when I don’t disclose my race.

In fact, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), although the unemployment rate for the whole adult population has dropped since 2008, the number of unemployed BAME adults has actually risen.

Racism and class oppression are clearly linked. BAME workers are more likely to be low income or unemployed than their white counterparts. The types of jobs typically done by black workers are not only low paying but are also often temporary or precarious, so there’s a lot of job insecurity as well. This makes it difficult for black workers to bring in a steady income.

The TUC is calling for mandatory ethnic pay gap reporting, which would force businesses to reveal if they are paying employees different salaries for the same job. They are also calling for an end to insecure work, and the banning of zero-hour contracts. BAME unemployment rates would definitely drop if workers weren’t having to constantly look for their next job!

Although this is a good start from the TUC, we can’t just rely on businesses to do the right thing. Trade unions should be given the power to oversee these changes and hold bosses that don’t cooperate accountable.

Tory divide and rule

The current Tory government is making an effort to divide BAME and white workers. They’re upping their rhetoric about blocking refugees from entering the country and tightening the reins on immigration. As if money spent putting up refugees in hotels is the reason why nurses’ pay rises can’t be afforded, for example. Meanwhile the billionaires get richer.

It benefits the capitalists to divide the working class. By promoting the narrative that black workers (specifically immigrant workers) are to blame, they make BAME workers the enemy; it takes the blame off of them. BAME workers are not taking jobs from white workers, and they’re definitely not the reason working-class people are struggling!

It is important for the working class to band together and point the finger at those that are really to blame – the super-rich capitalist class. This is why the working class must build a united movement to fight back.