‘Structural racism in action’ within retail, TUC warns

Black, minority and ethnic (BME) women are twice more likely to be on zero-hour contracts compared to white men, a TUC analysis has revealed.

The union has defined this as “structural racism in action”, highlighting how non-white women were overrepresented on zero-hour contracts by 4.3% compared to white men at 3%.

BME women are the “most disproportionately affected group”, followed by BME men and white women.

READ MORE: Universal credit up by 130% during pandemic, TUC warns

The news comes as over one million workers are on zero-hour contracts, with the figure up by 40,000 compared to the previous year.

Zero-hour contracts “makes it hard for workers to plan their lives,” the TUC explained as the employer has “total control over the workers’ hours and earning power”.

In addition to contracts, BME women have experienced higher rates of employment with one in 12 BME women unemployed compared to one in 29 white workers.

Women are also more likely to work in hardest-hit sectors like retail, frontline jobs, social care – increasing their exposure to Covid-19 during the crisis.

“We need to end the scourge of insecure work once and for all,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.

That’s how you start to tackle the structural racism that holds BME workers back and that’s how you take meaningful action to fight for gender equality in the labour market.”

O’Grady added: “The government must publish its long-overdue employment bill and ban exploitative practices like zero-hours contracts and it must place a duty on employers to measure and report on their ethnicity pay gap.”

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