'Ignore Sewell': TUC slams govt response to controversial report

Government urged to introduce ethnicity pay gap monitoring

'Ignore Sewell': TUC slams govt response to controversial report

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has slammed the government's response to the controversial Sewell report, calling on the government to reject it instead. The report, released by Tony Sewell for the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities last year, was called out by various groups after it reportedly denied systemic and institutional racism. 

The government responded to the report this week, almost a year since the release of the controversial report, recommending the formation of a "diverse panel of historians to develop a new knowledge-rich model history curriculum by 2024 to support high-quality teaching of our complex past, " The Guardian reported.

It also recommended increased scrutiny of the police at the local levels, as well as the introduction of an automatic "opt-in" to give access to legal advice for minority ethnic groups if they need it.

In workplaces, the government also recommended offering a new "in-work support" to every job centre starting April, with new specialist "progression champions" to support workers.

The government's strategy made no mention of the controversial claims, and it was met by criticism from the TUC.

"The government has accepted the recommendations of the Sewell report, which denies systemic and institutional racism, and which failed to recognise or propose action on the institutional racism experienced by BME (Black & Minority Ethnic) workers in the workplace," TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady in a statement.

"The government should have rejected the report, and instead proposed real action on workplace equality."

According to O'Grady, the minister should "act now" to ban zero-hours contracts to help BME workers overnight.

"They should ignore Sewell and bring in ethnicity pay gap monitoring now," the general secretary added.

Read more: Why the ethnicity pay gap is even more complicated than gender

O'Grady stressed that BME workers are not always treated decently and are respected at work.

"No matter your race or background, everyone deserves to be treated decently and with respect at work. But that's not always the case for most BME workers," said the official.

She added that the pandemic also exposed the inequality faced by BME in the jobs market, because they are more likely to work for low-paid and insecure jobs with fewer rights and no access to sick pay.

"They're more likely to be in frontline roles, so have had a higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19 - and they have been three times more likely to die," said O'Grady. 

According to the official, the commission had the chance to act on institutional racism but chose to deny it.

"The Commission had a real chance to recommend decisive action to stamp out this institutional racism. But instead, they denied the experiences of BME workers and were complacent about the UK's progress towards being an anti-racist society," she said.

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