Black workers facing the scourge of casualisation
The coalition government’s rhetoric on the need to reduce the financial deficit hid an agenda. This agenda aimed to reshape the economy through privatisation of public services and to destroy union organisation and hard won conditions. It aimed to enable private interests to exploit labour for even more profit.
The results of this can be seen in the rising levels of casualisation in both low paid and professional jobs in the labour market. The effects of these policies for black and minority ethnic (BME) communities – already suffering from disproportionate levels of unemployment and in-work poverty – are catastrophic.
A newly-published TUC Report, “Living on the Margins” exposes how, in the aftermath of the recession, BME workers continue to face high levels of unemployment and are also disproportionately affected by the growth in low-paid, part-time and precarious jobs.
The report reveals that between 2011 and 2014 temporary working increased by 25.4 per cent amongst BME workers compared with a 10.9 per cent increase amongst white workers. Between 2011 and 2013 there has been a 37 per cent increase in BME workers employed compared with a 16 per cent increase in white employees working through agencies. Casualisation has disproportionately affected young BME workers with 15.2 per cent of young BME workers in non-permanent jobs compared to 8.4 per cent amongst young white workers.
There is a need for a concerted and co-ordinated action by the government to eliminate racial discrimination in the labour market. The government must tackle the increasing exploitation and exclusion from employment rights faced disproportionately by black workers as a result of the increase in the use of non-permanent working arrangements. Failure to take action will result in BME workers and communities continuing to be marginalised within the world of work, and pushed further into poverty.
The colour blind approach of the coalition government and their failure to take serious measures to deal with institutional racism in employment is resulting in further entrenchment of racial inequality in the labour market. Unless urgent action is taken, young black workers will be faced with a choice: low-paid casual employment or ending up on the scrap heap. This will ensure that the structural discrimination that faces BME workers in the labour market will continue for another generation.
The TUC believes that government should abandon the failed idea that creating good practice in the public sector will filter through to the private sector and as matter of urgency introduce legislation that places all employers under a duty to promote racial equality.
We also believe that government should take positive action measures to tackle structural racism caused by job segregation and segmentation in the labour market. Only through such measures can equality of opportunity be achieved and the historical disadvantage that BME workers have suffered will be addressed.