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Monday 1 March 2021

Letter by trade union leaders and race equality campaigners on the government's Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

1st March 2021

Chair of BARAC UK has co-signed this letter alongside leading campaigners against racism including trade union leaders including Baroness Doreen Lawrence, 

 This week, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities is expected to publish its report. Set up under pressure from the Black Lives Matter protests In June last year, the prime minister made a commitment “to tackle the substance of the problems”.  

Despite progress on equality, change is urgent. BME people are three times more likely to die from Covid-19. The BME unemployment rate is running at almost double that of white workers. And BME workers in London experience a 24% pay gap. 

We hope the commission’s report recognises that these inequalities are driven by institutional and structural racism.  

Last week we lost Sir William Macpherson. His 1999 report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence highlighted the impact of institutional racism. Twenty years on, his insight is being forgotten, with too many explaining away racial inequalities as being about “a few bad apples” or solely about class or geography.  

Of course both class and where you live matter. The UK must address the inequal opportunities faced by low income people, and the glaring disparities across the regions and nations of the UK alongside the racism and structural discrimination face by BME communities. But we will not stand by as white and BME working people are pitched against each other. 

We hope the Commission’s report will, as a bare minimum:  

  • Implement in full the recommendations from the seven reports commissioned since 2010: Lammy, Angiolini, Williams (Windrush), McGregor-Smith, Kline, Parker and Timpson 

  • Set out race equality strategy to guide the Covid-19 response 

  • Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay reporting. 

The statement has been signed by: 

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC 

Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE 

Lord Simon Woolley CBE, former Chair, Government’s Racial Disparity Unit advisory group 

Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary, NASUWT 

Gloria Mills CBE, Chair, TUC Race Relations Committee 

Lord Prem Sikka, Economist 

Prof Kailash Chand CBE, Hon Vice President, BMA 

Dr Halima Begum, Director, The Runnymede Trust 

Dr Zubaida Haque, Independent SAGE 

Maurice Mcleod, Chief Executive, ROTA 

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Executive Director, UK Black Pride 

Zita Holbourne, BARAC UK 

Ellie Mae O’Hagan, Director, CLASS 

The related news story together with the letter  can be accessed here 

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