Ethnic staff suffer 12% pay gap

May 31, 2002

Ethnic minority lecturers are paid 12 per cent less than their white counterparts, the Association of University Teachers said today.

On the deadline for universities to produce legally binding plans setting out how they will eliminate unlawful discrimination under the 2000 Race Relations (Amendment) Act, the AUT revealed the extent of the work that must be done. It also said that universities were not embracing the spirit of the legislation.

AUT research found that non-white staff earned on average 19 per cent less than white colleagues in Northern Ireland, 15 per cent less in Scotland, and 12 per cent less in England and Wales. The average pay gap was 12 per cent - with non-white staff earning nearly £4,000 less.

"We have found that up and down the country, the problems faced by black staff simply do not feature within the operational paradigm," said Bill Gulam, AUT branch secretary at Salford, and a leading member of the union's black staff network. "The legislation could end up as a wasted exercise because black staff have not been meaningfully involved in drawing up action plans."

The AUT found that full-time white staff in England earned an average of £32,540, compared with £28,690 for non-whites. In Northern Ireland, where the gap was greatest, whites earned£32,168, compared with £25,930.

Under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act, all public bodies - including universities, which are mentioned specifically in the legislation - had until today to publish their strategies to counter race discrimination. The plans will be monitored by a newly empowered Commission for Racial Equality.

But the AUT is concerned that universities, contrary to the spirit of the law, have not engaged black staff in the process. "Of all the universities, I would be surprised if more than 10 per cent had made sure that there was meaningful involvement by black staff in drawing up the action plans," Dr Gulam said. "Most seem to have done little more than just invite comments once the deed is done and the plans have been drawn up. We don't think the meaningful involvement that the legislation is requiring is actually taking place."

The discrimination is worse when non-white staff are not of UK or European Union nationality. The figures, from pay data provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for 2000-01, found that full-time non-white staff of UK nationality were paid 6 per cent less than their white colleagues, £31,016 compared with £33,104.

Non-white staff from overseas countries outside the EU were paid some 13 per cent less than whites.

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