Toggle high contrast
Father and Daughter take a walk along a local street with their scooter.
i
Getty/izusek

Class prejudice is so rife in modern Britain, we need a new law to tackle it

Author
Published date
The key to building working class power is strong trade unions, but class discrimination is so persistent that we need new laws to tackle it too.

Today we publish new research showing that class prejudice is alive and well in modern Britain.

The key to building working class power is strong trade unions. But class discrimination is so persistent that we need new laws to tackle it too.

Working class graduates miss out on higher-paying jobs

TUC analysis of data provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows that graduates with parents in ‘professional and routine’ jobs are more than twice as likely as working-class graduates to start on a high salary, no matter what degree level they attain.

The table below shows the percentage of employed graduates in different salary bands at 6 months following graduation.

It looks at how these differ depending on the occupation of the graduate’s highest-earning parent when they were 14. These figures are for those who graduated in the 2016/17 academic year.

It clearly shows that those with parents who worked in managerial and professional occupations are more likely to enter high-earning jobs after graduation than those with parents in semi-routine or routine occupations.

A graduate from a professional background is twice as likely to be in a job earning above £30,000 per year than someone whose parents worked in a routine or semi-routine occupation.

Percentage of employed graduates in different salary bands at 6 months following graduation, by highest-earning parent’s occupation at 14

Our findings echo research from the Government’s own Social Mobility Commission that found that even when those from working class backgrounds enter professional occupations, they earn on average 17 per cent less than their more privileged colleagues.

That’s just one sign of the fact that the working classes aren’t getting a fair deal

Access to high paying jobs isn’t the only way that working class people don’t get a fair deal. TUC research showed that those in working-class jobs have been hit hard by the pay crisis in the last decade.

And working-class families have lost out most from the government imposed austerity that’s cut public services to the bone.

Building working class power

Trade unions have been vital to improving working class prospects. We’ve fought for the right to speak up in the workplace and negotiate better terms and conditions, and we know that where trade unions are strong, inequality falls.

Strengthening our own movement, and our ability to negotiate for working people, is at the heart of trade unions’ mission to protect working class interests.

Last week we published new proposals to strengthen workers’ power to raise their voice at work and make sure that employers are listening.

We need government action too. Government must reverse years of austerity and fund the public services that working class families rely on.

And as today’s figures show, class discrimination is persistent in the workplace that we need new laws to tackle it. We’re calling for government to:

  • Make discrimination on the basis of class unlawful, like race, sex and disability
  • Introduce a legal duty on public bodies to make tackling all forms of inequality a priority
  • Make it compulsory for employers to report their class pay gaps.

The TUC was founded to ‘advance the general interests of the working classes’. We’ll keep fighting to achieve that historic mission today.