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More than a third (37%) of Black or minority ethnic (BME) workers have been bullied, abused or singled out at work, according to research published by the TUC today (Wednesday).

The polling is part of a major new TUC report on racism at work. It was carried out by ICM and is based on a survey of more than 1,000 British BME people.

It also reveals that:

  • Nearly half (47%) of those who were verbally abused at work say this was because of their race.
  • 42% of those bullied or harassed say their direct manager was the main perpetrator.
  • Only 1 in 5 (20%) reported the bullying and felt their complaint was dealt with properly. 1 in 6 (16%) said they were treated less well after making a complaint.
  • Women experience particular discrimination. 2 in 5 (41%) wanted to leave their jobs because of bullying and harassment, but could not afford to.
  • 1 in 5 (19%) have experienced discrimination such as being denied training or promotion.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Racism still haunts the Britain workplace. Racist bullying, harassment and victimisation should have no place anywhere, least of all at work.  And it’s clear that people are being denied opportunities because of their race.

“Employers must take a zero-tolerance attitude and treat every complaint seriously. It’s a scandal that so few black and Asian workers feel their bosses are dealing with racism properly.

"And it's unacceptable that shop workers, bus drivers and street cleaners face racist abuse from members of the public. The government should change the law so their employers have to protect them.

“Anyone who has faced discrimination at work should talk to their union rep or join a trade union. We all have a responsibility to call out racism wherever we see it.”

ICM Director Martin Boon said:

“This survey research is rare in offering a nuanced view of the experience of Black and Minority Ethnic workers in Britain. Too often research takes the views of small samples compared as a whole against those of white participants.

“This research took a different approach – focussing exclusively on BME workers in Britain. Surveying over 1,000 such workers gives a high level of confidence in the results of the research, but also allows for a much deeper level of insight.”

The TUC is calling for:

  • New third party harassment rules to protect workers who deal with the public, making employers responsible for abuse suffered;
  • Every employer to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for racism at work, including a clear process for reporting it;
  • A full government strategy on race equality, including action on harassment at work and online;
  • Legislation requiring employers to publish data on race and recruitment, salary, promotion and dismissal.
Editors note

- Polling was conducted for the TUC by ICM unlimited, who polled a representative sample of 1,003 British Black and minority ethnic workers online. All question asked about experiences over the last five years.

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