Living on the Margins: Black workers and Casualisation

In Britain there is more poverty in every ethnic minority group than among the white British population.

1 The TUC believes that a major cause of this poverty is race discrimination faced by black workers in the UK labour market. The lack of access to employment and to training and promotion opportunities has also consistently undermined the financial well-being of black communities in the UK. The 2008 recession led to lower levels of unemployment than many have been anticipated given the experiences of previous economic downturns of the 1980s and 1980s. However, it is clear that not all communities have benefitted from the recovery. As this report highlights, in the UK today Black and Minority Ethnic workers continue to experience high levels of unemployment. Recent research reveals that since 2010 the UK has witnessed a 50 per cent increase in the numbers of young people from BME communities in long-term unemployment.

2 The 2008 recession also heralded an increase in insecure and casual working in the UK. In the aftermath of the recession, as employment levels have risen, so too have the numbers of individuals working in part-time, temporary and insecure forms of employment. The growth in precarious work has been epitomised by the increased use in zerohours contracts. Official statistics confirm that by 2014, there were 1.8 million zero-hours contracts in use in the UK.

3 Findings from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) also suggested that the number of agency temps has grown in the aftermath of the recession.

4 Whilst atypical employment continues to represent a minority of overall employment – there is growing concern that the UK labour market is moving towards more low-paid, less secure and more exploitative forms of employment. TUC research published in December 2014 highlighted the human cost associated with the growth in casual work, including low pay, under-employment, and heightened financial insecurity.

Those in precarious employment are more vulnerable to exploitation. Their working patterns and hours are largely dictated by their employer and they have very little flexibility or autonomy over their lives. Due to their uncertain employment status, the transient nature of their work and their low level of weekly pay, many zero-hours contract workers, agency workers and others in insecure jobs lose out on basic rights at work.

Being in such a precarious situation means it is very difficult for workers to complain if they are treated badly. As a result they risk having the few rights they do have disregarded. This report highlights how BME workers have been disproportionately affected by the growth in part-time, insecure and low-paid employment. It illustrates the ways in which changes in working patterns and in the contractual relationship between employer and employees have had a negative effect on BME workers resulting in many living on the margins of the labour market.

The findings outlined in this report are based on an analysis of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS). The case studies and quotes scattered throughout the report are largely drawn from an online survey carried out by the TUC in April/May 2014.

This survey received 3,244 responses. The vast majority of respondents were members of trade unions. One in three were employed in temporary work, including agency work, zero-hours contracts or fixed term contracts.

Given the precarious nature of their employment, the identities of the individuals have been anonymised. Precarious employment and BME workers Official statistics indicate that temporary and casual forms of employment, as well as part-time employment, have increased steadily in the aftermath of the recession.5 As shown in Table 1, by October to December 2014 more than 1.7 million employees in the UK were employed in some form of temporary work, an increase of more than 300,000 since the start of the recession.

Temporary working for these purposes includes agency working, employment on a fixed term contract, in casual work and other non-permanent employment than is temporary in some other way. The proportion of the overall workforce employed in some form of temporary work also increased from 5.5 per cent in 2008 to 6.5 per cent in 2014.6.…

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5 ways of gaining experience in politics

Thinking about working in politics? Want to get some first had experience of what its like to work in the world of politics? Here are 5 ways to get involved:

Become an intern

Many political organisations recruit interns for a fixed period; this is an ideal way to gain practical knowledge, skills and training in your chosen field. Completing an internship looks great on your CV and is often a useful ‘foot in the door’ to gaining full time employment in the organisation you are interning for. Internships can be paid or unpaid and usually last between 3 and 12 months. Most unpaid internships provide allowances for travel and lunch. Good places to look for political internships include the Parliament website, YouElect jobs Pages and W4MP.

Most internship placements receive a large number of applications so it’s really important that your CV is as up to date and as detailed as possible and that your application explains clearly and persuasively why you want to work in politics. You can find more information about writing a good application on the Guardian Careers website

Start your own campaign

Starting your own campaign might sound like a challenge but it will help you to develop many of the skills needed to be successful in the world of politics whilst giving you the opportunity to work towards something you feel passionate about. When running a campaign you will need to think about the best ways to promote your cause, from public events to social media. Gaining momentum for your campaign will involve talking to people on all levels, including members of the public and your local MP. You could start your campaign by setting up a social media page or by starting a petition.

More details about how to deliver a successful campaign can be found here.

Volunteer for a political party

Being part of a political party will help you to gain experience at a grass roots level and will open up opportunities for you to get involved in a variety of different aspects of political work, from rallying support for local party candidates to promoting party work and policies on social media. Volunteering for a political party is a great way of meeting other like-minded people and networking with others who are more established in their political careers. Many MPs start their political careers in this way.

If you are interested in getting more involved with a local branch of your preferred political party, details of how to volunteer are available on party websites.

Join your university politics society

Most university politics or debating societies host talks and workshops on a variety of political issues many are led by big name speakers in the world of politics. Being part of a university society is a good starting point for engaging in key political debates and developing your understanding of the political process. It’s also an easy way of meeting new people and a great booster for your CV.

Contact your university politics or debating society for more details about how to get involved.

Attend a parliament debate

The majority of debates and committee meetings held in Parliament are open to the general public. Going to parliament events will not only help you to gain first hand understanding of the decision making process at the very top level, it will also help you to keep up with the most current issues in politics, from the economy, to crime and the environment. You could even start blogging about what you hear and let others know about your political opinions and the issues you care about the most. Visit the Parliament website to find out about the latest parliament events.…

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6 pieces of random political jargon to remember

Learning these words and phrases will help you to follow along with Parliament debates and meetings on issues that have an impact on you:

1. Sunset Clause

Unfortunately the name sounds far more exotic than the meaning. You will find Sunset Clauses written in certain pieces of legislation passed through parliament. A Sunset Clause is basically a clause written within a piece of law which has an expiry date. Sunset Clauses are used when creating new laws to give Parliament the opportunity to decide whether the clause is still relevant at a future date. If no action is taken before the clause expiry date, the clause will no longer be part of the law.

2. Ping Pong

In this case Ping Pong has less to do with table tennis and more to do with the process of passing a new law through Parliament. A Bill must be approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords before it becomes law. When one House makes amendments to a Bill, the Bill has to be passed over to the other House to be checked and then back again, until both Houses are in agreement about every clause in the Bill. This process of going back and forth between the Houses is referred to as Ping Pong as it is very similar to the way two players hit the ball back and forth during a game.

TALK ABOUT WOMAN EQUALITIES

3. Hung Parliament

Sounds a bit sinister, however this term simply refers to a situation where a General Election takes place and there is no clear winner. If no single political party wins the majority of seats in a General Election this is known as a Hung Parliament. In this situation, the previous government could remain in place while political parties negotiate to form a coalition government.

4. Give Way

Much like in driving, an MP will sometimes ‘Give Way’ to another MP while they are speaking in the House of Commons, to allow that MP to interrupt and add any points they want to add. An MP cannot interrupt another MP without permission. The MP who is speaking must give permission for another MP to talk by sitting down and agreeing to Give Way.

5. Free Vote

This might sound like a strange expression as we usually think of voting as being free, however when votes take place between MPs or Members of the House of Lords they are sometimes asked to vote in a particular way by their Party Whip. A free vote refers to a situation where MPs or Lords have not been asked to vote a particular way by their Party and can vote however they choose to.

6. Crossing the floor

If an MP decides to switch political parties it is known as crossing the floor. The reason for this is that members of the same political party sit together within the House of Commons, with the government party sitting on the right of the chamber and the opposition parties sitting on the left. If you switch political parties you could literally have to cross the floor of the chamber to sit with your new party – hence the expression ‘crossing the floor’. Back to Homepage

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YouElect Talks Women & Equalities

Last week YouElect held its third event in Parliament in partnership with Parliament Outreach. The event was focused on the role of the Women and Equalities Committee and how we can use the committee to influence race and religious discrimination issues.

The evening featured talks from the committee chair Maria Miller MP, Committee Member Gavin Shuker MP and Committee Specialist Ayaz Manji.

The event gave attendees the opportunity to hear about the work the committee has done and is doing to improve crucial and previously ignored issues around equality within British society. Topics covered included Muslims in employment, the gender pay gap and transgender issues. The discussion also included practical advice about how we as individuals can submit our own evidence to the committee and suggest new areas for the committee to look into.

There was also room for a Q&A where the panellists answered questions from the audience on a wide range of issues including the role of the Committee in holding the media to account for stirring racial/religious tensions, how the committee ensures that its members are diverse and how the Committee makes sure that it hears evidence from a wide range of sources.

Committees play a very important role in Parliament because they can make recommendations to the government on changes to policy and law. All committees rely on evidence from a range of sources including members of the public who are affected by, or feel they have something important to contribute to the issue being investigated. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the opportunities that exist to influence the work of these Committees.

READ ABOUT POLITICAL JARGON

YouElect wants to make sure that as many young people as possible from a diverse range of backgrounds are getting involved in Parliamentary work at the highest levels. Remember to check the YouElect website for details on the latest Committee Enquiries and events.…

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7 Things You Need to Know about Voter Registration

1 The rules have changed

It was previously possible for someone within a household to register everyone on their behalf. This is no longer the case. Every single person in the UK who is eligible to vote must register as an individual – no one can do this for you. If you have not yet registered as an individual it is likely that you have disappeared from the Electoral Register.

2 Registering is quick and easy

Registering to vote can be done on the government website and will only take up 5 minutes of your time. The only information you will need is your national insurance number. Alternatively you can register by post if you prefer.

3 Being on the electoral register has a positive effect on your credit rating

That’s right – registering to vote boosts your credit score. Credit card agencies use the Electoral Register to verify your existence. This means that when applying for a credit card, loan or mortgage, your chances of being accepted will increase if you have registered to vote.

4 Not being registered could lead to a fine

It is a legal requirement to be registered to vote. If you have been asked to register to vote and do not do so, your local Electoral Registration office could issue you with a fine of £80. Probably best to avoid the hassle and register now!

5 Being registered is your key to using your political voice

If you are not on the Electoral Register you won’t be able to vote during elections and referendums. Voting is the simplest way of making your voice heard within the political system as it gives you the power to vote politicians in or out. You might be thinking that one vote doesn’t make a difference, but it does. A politician who is pledging policies that will have a positive effect on your life is more likely to get into power if you support them. Every vote counts.

6 People from BME backgrounds are less likely to be registered to vote

The BME community has been identified by the Electoral Commission as one of the groups who is least likely to be registered to vote. Without more people from BME communities participating in the political system, the opinions and concerns of BME communities will not be heard by key decision makers. The more people who engage in politics, the more Parliament will reflect the views of all communities in the UK.

7 Not being registered could negatively impact your local area during the Boundary Review

From March this year, a Constituency boundary review will take place which will see the number of constituencies in the UK reduce from 650 to 600 in time for the next General Election in 2018.

The review will try to make sure that all constituencies have roughly the same number of constituents living within them – this will be done using the data from the Electoral Register.

If there are a large number of people missing from the Electoral Register, the calculations will be inaccurate meaning that some constituencies will have a greater number of people living in them than others. This would lead to some constituencies having their resources, and budget stretched over a greater number of people than expected, which could affect the quality of services such as the NHS, education and sports and recreational facilities in your local area.…

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