Health workers striking at Barts hospital trust for pay rises. PhotoL London SP
Health workers striking at Barts hospital trust for pay rises. PhotoL London SP

Akhalya, Birmingham Central Socialist Party

Women of Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage earn 28.4% per hour less than white British men on average, according to the Ethnicity Pay Gap report released in November 2023.

Women of ethnic minority background in the UK are more likely to be underpaid in comparison to their white male counterparts. This is partly due to the jobs women of Black, Asian and other ethnic minority groups have easier access to.

UK government figures show that staff from the Black ethnic group had lower monthly basic pay than white staff doing equivalent jobs – Black men were paid 84p for every £1 paid to white men, and Black women were paid 93p for every £1 paid to white women.

BAME workers experience more of a discrepancy in pay in the public sector, including healthcare, where there have been real-terms pay cuts since 2010 due to austerity.

This is also worse for BAME women workers who have caring responsibilities. Women are more likely to take on part-time work or be stay-at-home carers for children, parents or family members who require additional care due to them being the lower-paid members of the household. Statistics show that one in eight BAME women are not working due to their caring commitments, compared to just one in 100 men. As the ruling class benefits from the unpaid labour provided by carers towards children, the gender pay gap deepens as women in lower-income households struggle to find regular work with flexibility for child and other caring responsibilities.

The pay gap is a conscious decision from the capitalist bosses to try and pay workers as low a wage as they can get away with to maximise their profits, using any divisions they can to push workers apart. While members of parliament see yearly pay rises, workers who work long hours and difficult jobs see real-terms wage cuts.

Capitalism thrives from splitting workers based on ethnicity, gender, disability and more. It is a system that forces people to work multiple jobs, and work themselves to exhaustion but still be unable to earn a sufficient income to support their family.

We need trade unions to fight for decent pay rises for all. For trade union oversight over pay and hiring practices, and unions to actively fight against sexism and racism in the workplace.

However, to permanently remove inequality and discrimination, we need to overthrow capitalism, the system responsible for them. And replace it with an economic system where not only is everyone paid a decent living wage, but housing is truly affordable and education and healthcare is free. That system is socialism.