TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has warned that government cuts are having a disproportionate impact on black and Asian communities.
Addressing the annual TUC black workers’ conference in London on 11th April 2013, Ms. O’Grady said: “Austerity is having a devastating impact on black and Asian communities.
“A million public sector jobs will be slashed by 2018 – a senseless assault on our public realm that hits black women more than any other group. And the crisis of youth unemployment is leaving a terrible scar on the lives of young black people.”
Almost 60% of black men under the age of 25 are without work – double the rate before the crash, Ms. O’Grady said.
“The government is repeating the mistakes of the 1980s, by failing to invest in decent jobs it risks creating a generation of discontented youth,” she said. “Ministers should re-instate the Future Jobs Fund and the Education Maintenance Allowance, so bright young black and Asian people can play their part in rebuilding Britain.”
Ms. O’Grady accused the government of seeing the duty to “deliver equality as red tape”.
The government, she said, “needs to wake up and recognise that prejudice and discrimination is still a reality, and start speaking up for a modern, multi-cultural Britain.”
Ms. O’Grady also challenged politicians to change the current debate on immigration.
“Too much of the current debate on immigration is driven by UKIP scaremongering and the right-wing press, not the facts. Migrant workers aren’t to blame for low pay, exploitation is. And the government’s austerity policies are responsible for pressure on public services, not those dedicated workers who deliver them.”
She urged politicians avoid focusing on health tourism and instead, talk “a bit more about the overseas doctors, nurses and support staff without whom our NHS simply would not function.”
She went on to say: “Rather than closing our doors to international students, let’s hear a bit more about the huge contribution they make to our colleges, universities and national life.
“And rather than implying that immigrants are stealing our jobs, let’s crack down on rogue bosses who exploit vulnerable workers of any nationality and use government powers to force them to pay at least the living wage.”