This is the first in a new series shining a spotlight on the activities of the far right. Here, I’ll look at the impact of coronavirus on Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities.
BME communities have suffered more than most from coronavirus. According to the Office of National Statistics, BME people are nearly twice as likely to die from coronavirus.
Together with the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), we asked Welsh Government to investigate this. In response, a ‘BAME Covid-19 expert advisory group’ was set up.
The committee’s report stated that the impact of coronavirus on Wales’ Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities have highlighted a ‘lack of action on race equality’.
The report also made a series of recommendations on:
The group also looked at the ongoing risks to front-line healthcare workers. They developed an online risk assessment tool which considers the risk of being from a BME background.
We are concerned about the number of outbreaks in sectors with a high number of migrant workers. Many of these workers have no access to proper sick pay. They often have bad terms and conditions of employment and insecure contracts. This means they cannot afford adequate housing and practise social distancing.
We fear a backlash against migrant workers due to these outbreaks.
Unions are doing all they can to negotiate full company sick pay for these workers. We are working with government to see what additional housing support can be provided. We are also calling for asylum seekers to be given the right to work, something which is backed by 71% of the population.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has announced an inquiry into the impact of coronavirus on ethnic minorities.
We welcome this, but believe the inquiry must address the long-standing issues of systemic institutional racism and discrimination. It must hold the UK government to account for failing to adhere to the public sector equality duty.
This inquiry does not replace the call for a judicial public enquiry which many grassroots activists and trade unions support.
Read more about what we think the inquiry must consider.
We echo the EHRC’s statement that this is a ‘once in a generation opportunity to tackle deep-seated inequalities and create a fairer country’.
The murder of George Floyd in the US sparked global protests and activism - including here in Wales. We remain committed to supporting many campaigns for justice. These include the ‘Justice for Christopher Kapessa’ campaign. We recently ran an online event looking at how we can make the economy work for BME communities. You can watch the event again on our YouTube page.
Our ‘BME workers in Wales and Covid-19’ page provides advice and support to BME workers, as well as useful information. But we always need more information on what is happening in Welsh workplaces. We are running a survey to find out the impact of race on BME people’s experience of the workplace. This will help us understand what support you need. It will also provide much-needed evidence for Welsh Government. Help us by completing the survey and letting us know your experiences.