Impact of Low Pay on Black workers in Local Government

Back to all Motions

2016 Local Government Service Group Conference
26 February 2016

Equal pay cases relate to gender pay discrimination but unequal pay affects a significant number of employees in the other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 including race.

Recent research published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission ‘Is Britain Fairer’ shows significant hourly pay gaps between white men and Black men especially Pakistani, Bangladeshi and African as well as Black and white women. Research also shows that migrant workers and refugees suffer particular pay penalties.

There are many potential reasons why Black workers may have lower average pay than white workers which can include qualifications, type and length of experience and occupational and sector segregation. However, even when factors like education and qualifications are equal this is not reflected in access to employment or levels of pay for Black workers.

The ethnic pay gap captures the disadvantage that workers face in the workplace. Pay discrimination occurs mostly in temporary, casual and generally insecure work in which Black workers are over-represented in local government.

Conference believes that individual pay is a critical issue, it is the main component of income among working families and a major determinant of the standards of living. This is a concern for Black families that are several times more likely to live in poverty than their white counterparts.

Last year, Camden Council became the first in the country to publish pay analysis of its workforce by gender, disability and ethnicity. Local government is one of the largest employers of Black workers and it is therefore vital that this type of transparent approach is taken so that we can understand the pay landscape and identify and address any inequality in pay.

Pay has declined in real terms for almost everyone in the UK since 2008 but Runnymede research shows the groups most affected by the declining pay in local government employment include young people and Black workers.

Our members in local government in particular have suffered with unprecedented pay freezes and austerity cuts.

Conference therefore calls on the local government service group executive to consider the impact of low pay on Black workers in local government and the ethnic pay gap in all future pay negotiations and further to seek to encourage all local authority employers to:

1)Collect and publish pay analysis across protected characteristics including race;

2)Use pay audits and the collection of other relevant data to further investigate the extent of the ethnic pay gap in local government employment.