• Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Business

Labour proposes equal pay rights for BAME workers

This initiative comes as a response to escalating inequality, notably impacting BAME communities through various crises and systemic cuts

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 12: Labour leader Keir Starmer gestures as he delivers a speech at Silverstone Technology Park on December 12, 2023 in Milton Keynes, England. The Labour leader speaks on the fourth anniversary of the General Election saying that he has changed the Labour Party so that it ‘shares Britain’s values’. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Under a proposed race equality act, the Labour Party aims to broaden the scope of existing equal pay rights, currently afforded to women, for the first time, to include BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) workers, alongside individuals with disabilities, an exclusive report by The Guardian said.

This initiative aims to level the playing field in pay equity, with a planned phased implementation, with an approach designed to allow employers sufficient time to adjust their practices to ensure equitable compensation for all employees, with provisions for retroactive pay commencing from the date the law is enacted.

Amid criticisms of the slow execution of the Windrush compensation scheme, Labour pledges to appoint a Windrush commissioner upon election victory. This role is envisioned to revive efforts for justice for the Windrush generation, potentially relocating the compensation scheme from the Home Office to ensure efficiency and accountability.

Keir Starmer’s commitment to a race equality act was first promised in 2020, with the establishment of a taskforce led by Doreen Lawrence. However, the delay in providing specifics has stirred doubts about the party’s dedication to eradicating structural racism.

This initiative comes as a response to escalating inequality, notably impacting BAME communities through various crises and systemic cuts.

Anneliese Dodds, shadow secretary for women and equalities, emphasised the urgency of addressing race equality.

She said, “Inequality has soared under the Tories and too many black, Asian, and ethnic minority families are working harder and harder for less and less. This is holding back their families and holding back the economy.

“We are proud of our achievements in government, from the landmark Equality Act [in 2010] to strengthening protections against discrimination. The next Labour government will go further to ensure no matter where you live in the UK, and whatever your background, you can thrive.”

Labour’s proposals which the party is set to unveil Monday (5) also includes addressing dual discrimination, allowing for a unified claim in instances of intersecting biases, a move anticipated to streamline tribunal processes and extend protections across a range of discriminations.

This approach would benefit various groups, including women discriminated against during menopause.

The new act would require public institutions such as the NHS, police forces, schools, and local councils to compile and disclose data on employment, compensation, and, where relevant, performance metrics, categorised by ethnicity.

Additionally, the act would formalise previously declared initiatives, including the enforcement of reporting on ethnicity-related pay disparities, the provision of anti-racism training for police personnel, and the review of the school curriculum to promote diversity.

Labour’s broader agenda includes enhancing mental health services, targeting maternal health disparities, and revising clinical training to reflect the UK’s diverse population.

Party sources said the new act would help deliver on its core mission to unlock economic growth through better jobs and more secure employment for BAME people, which they claimed could be worth more than £26bn a year in increased salaries.

Dr Shabna Begum the interim chief executive of the race equality thinktank the Runnymede Trust, lauds the act as a critical shift from past policies but warns that it may not fully tackle the extensive inequalities facing people of colour.

She advocates for a robust, cross-governmental strategy underpinned by substantial investment to address deep-rooted disparities in various sectors, underscoring the intrinsic link between racism and systemic inequalities.

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