Black workers hit harder by austerity

UNISON’s equalities survey reveals some uncomfortable truths

In June this year, UNISON ran a survey to find out about members’ financial situations, and some of the results are shocking, especially when it came to our Black members.

We sent out a survey and over 11,000 people filled it in, so it gives us a good idea of what’s going on with the finances of public service workers.

As well as questions on the cost of living, we also asked for ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and whether people consider themselves disabled. This enabled us to break the data down and see if any groups are feeling the impact of the pay cap more than others. It turned out they are.

We’ll be putting up the results on The Public Service Data blog over the next couple of weeks, and as this is Black History Month we thought we’d start with some of the issues the survey revealed about our Black members.

Of all the people who filled in the survey, 43 out of every 100 said that their standard of living was worse than a year ago. Last year when we asked the question, only (!) 34 out of every 100 said it was worse.

When the data is filtered to just those who identify as Black, the results are even more disheartening. In 2016, 38 out of every 100 members who identify as Black said that their living standard was worse. This year half of all Black members have experienced their living standards drop.

We also asked some questions that highlight the types of things people have had to go without because the squeeze on their finances.

One of them is going without an annual holiday. Public service workers work really hard to keep our country running, and we think (at the least) they deserve a holiday. Sadly, in the last year 66 out of every 100 Black members had to go without a holiday.

It’s not just holidays that people are missing though, shockingly some UNISON members have had to miss one of their daily meals to help balance their budget.

Almost one in four Black people who work in public services say they have had to skip a meal because of their finances. It really is time the government started paying public sector workers fairly.

UNISON’s Black members self-organised group campaigns to improve working conditions for Black members. Find out more and get involved here.