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Racism is getting worse in Britain's workplaces

27 April 2001 - A TUC report, Black workers deserve better claims that racism is intensifying in Britain's workplaces with black and Asian people now more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white counterparts. The TUC argues that all employers should be legally required to promote good race relations in order to reverse the trend.

The black and Asian unemployment rate stands at 12%, compared with 5% for whites. The gap was smaller in 1990 when black and Asian unemployment was 11% and the white rate was 6%. Black and Asian workers have not benefited as much as the white population from an expanding economy - the world's 4th largest - and an overall drop in unemployment to below a million claimants.

The situation is worse in specific regions. 15% of blacks and Asians are unemployed in Yorkshire, Humberside and the West Midlands, compared with 5% among white workers. Discrimination continues when black and Asian workers have jobs: 18.7% of white employees were managers in Summer 1999 and 19 per cent in Winter 2000/1 - up 0.3 per cent. But the proportion of black and Asian workers in managerial jobs remained static at 14.9 per cent in that year. This is despite the fact that the proportion of black and Asian workers educated to degree level or above went from 21% to 26% over the last 18 months. During this period the comparable proportion of white employees moved from 16 to 17%.

The TUC are asking the Government to extend the newly amended Race Relations Act to be extended to give the same legal obligations to private and voluntary sector employers as those imposed on all public authorities. They should be legally required to take positive action to promote good race relations, and take action to prevent any form of racial discrimination.

John Monks, TUC General Secretary, said: 'Too many employers are ignoring the lessons of the MacPherson Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. They have to face up to the reality of racism in their organisations and act against it. Despite unemployment dropping below one million our black and Asian workers are still suffering appalling discrimination.

'And this is made worse as black and Asian workers are passed over for managerial jobs, even though they have skilled themselves by gaining more higher educational qualifications. All employers should monitor their recruitment and promotion procedures and reverse this unacceptable position.'

The report makes the following recommendations:

* Extension of the enforceable general duties of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 to cover the private and voluntary sectors.

* Adoption of the definition of indirect discrimination from the European Union Race Directive for use in domestic legislation.

* Organisational reviews to identify whether institutional racism exists within workplaces.

* Employers and trade unions working in partnership to develop clear action plans to tackle institutional racism from the workplace.

* Employers and trade unions working in partnership to set targets, with clear time limits, to achieve fair representation of black workers at all levels in the workplace.

Statistics used in the report are taken from the Labour Force Survey ILO unemployment rates by ethnicity Winter 2000/1.

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