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Union calls for fair wage for all as ethnicity pay gap persists

Union calls for fair wage for all as ethnicity pay gap persists
Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has repeated calls for companies to publish their ethnicity pay gap.

The call came after figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that black, African, Caribbean or black British employees earn less per hour than white workers on average. The ONS has arrived at the same findings each year since 2021.

For 2023, the ONS found black, African, Caribbean or black British workers typically earn £13.53 median gross hourly pay, while white employees earn £14.35 an hour.

Ethnicity pay gaps are the percentage difference between the median gross hourly earnings of the reference group (normally white or white British employees) and the comparative ethnic groups.

The ONS found the country of birth had an impact on how much employees earned: UK-born black, African, Caribbean or black British employees earned more (£15.18 an hour), while non-UK-born black British employees earned less (£12.95), when compared with UK-born white employees (£14.26).

‘Structural racism’ in play

Paul Nowak, TUC general secretary, said: “No worker should be held back or paid less because of racism at work. But structural racism still plays a big role in determining black workers’ pay and career prospects – and this Government has done nothing to change that. That’s not good enough.

“Labour’s New Deal for Working People would help tackle the discrimination that holds BME workers back by introducing a new duty on employers to report their ethnicity pay gap. And Labour would also ban zero-hours contracts and introduce fair pay agreements to boost pay and standards in social care – both changes would have a disproportionately positive impact on BME workers.”

Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at Interactive Investor, said: “The statistics highlight the desperate need to address pay disparity between ethnic groups in a similar vein to efforts made to expose gender inequalities. Closing pay gaps between ethnic groups is crucial for promoting equality and fairness. It ensures that individuals are compensated based on their skills and contributions rather than their ethnicity.

“One of the starkest findings is that even when the numbers are crunched to provide an adjusted pay gap based on a like-for-like comparison, UK-born white employees earn more on average than most ethnic minority employees. It is an uncomfortable stat.”

“Given a disparity in pay, it is unsurprising that recent government data on pensioner income showed that Asian and Black ethnic groups are more likely to have a lower income, lower provisions from pensions at retirement and are more likely to be claiming means-tested benefits when compared to their white British counterparts.

“Conversations about ethnic inequalities can be uncomfortable, but businesses need to be courageous and ask what needs to be done to achieve pay parity.”