Issue date
17 Mar 2017

Friday 17 March 2017

Over a third (34%) of Black, Asian or minority ethnic people (BAME) witnessed or experienced racial abuse in the seven months following the Brexit vote in June 2016, a TUC poll has found.

The ICM/TUC poll of over 1,000 BAME working adults also found that since the referendum:

  • 1 in 5 BAME people (19%) have suffered or witnessed racial assault
  • 2 in 5 (41%) have heard racist remarks or opinions
  • 2 in 5 people (38%) have seen racist material online
  • 1 in 4 (27%) have seen racist graffiti, posters or leaflets

The poll is part of a major TUC project to combat racism in the workplace, which will document the British BAME experience of racism and harassment, and set out ways to tackle it.

The TUC is calling on the government to:

  • Bring in rules about third-party harassment, which protect workers who deal with the public such as shop workers, street cleaners and bus drivers from abuse at work;
  • Develop a full race equality strategy, which includes tough action to crack down on harassment and discrimination at work, online and in everyday life;
  • Make sure the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has enough funding to take more legal cases and make sure the law reflects how contemporary racism plays out;
  • Make private sector companies responsible for promoting equal treatment throughout their activities just as public sector organisations already are.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Brexit has given racism a new lease of life. Discrimination has never gone away, but since the referendum racism has been on the rise.

“The scale of abuse is shocking. We have to come together and draw a line in the sand about what is acceptable in modern Britain in 2017 – and the government has to take a lead. It’s unacceptable that shop workers, bus drivers and street cleaners face abuse from members of the public – and their employers don’t have to do anything to protect them. 

“Anyone who has been harassed or mistreated at work should talk to their union rep or join a trade union. And we all have a responsibility to call out racist harassment wherever we see it.”


Notes to Editors:
- The TUC commissioned polling by ICM Unlimited, which surveyed 1,003 BAME adults living in Britain and in work. The polling relates to the seven month period between the EU referendum in June 2016 and mid-January 2017.
- Anonymous case studies are available for interview. Please contact the TUC Press Office for more information.
- TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady will be speaking at a London rally to mark UN Anti-Racism Day, on 18 March 2017.
- All TUC press releases can be found at
- TUC Press Office on Twitter: @tucnews