Kebba Manneh speaking at a UNISON Cymru Wales event. Photo credit: Natasha Hirst
There must be an investigation into why Black people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus across Wales, says UNISON today (Thursday).
UNISON Cymru Wales says Black health service staff and care workers are dying disproportionately, and the higher number of Black people in insecure and low-paid jobs means they are more likely to face unemployment and hardship during the pandemic.
UNISON is also repeating its urgent call for the Welsh government to ensure personal protective equipment is available to all healthcare workers and care staff, and for them to be tested as a priority.
As a matter of urgency, UNISON is asking NHS employers to identify what workforce data should be collected to aid a better understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on Black staff.
The union also wants health employers to ensure their actions in deploying staff to Covid-19 duties do not have a disproportionate impact on Black workers.
Kebba Manneh, chair of UNISON’s National Black Members Committee and Aneurin Bevan Health Board healthcare worker, said: “The effect of the pandemic has fallen particularly heavily on the Black community. You can’t fail to notice the high number of Black workers in the NHS, in care homes and elsewhere who have passed away.
“It’s important our politicians acknowledge that many public service jobs, like care work, cleaning and catering, haven’t been properly valued by society and these roles are disproportionately staffed by Black people.
“The government didn’t move fast enough to provide protective equipment to all of those who needed it, leaving them vulnerable.
“When very low-paid workers have lost their jobs due to the virus, they were plunged into financial hardship.
“This crisis has revealed the real heroes of our society and the contribution they make to keeping us safe and our communities running.
“UNISON Cymru Wales renews its call for protective equipment for all who need it and for an inquiry into the impact of the virus on the Black community.”
Notes for editors
“UNISON defining ‘Black’ with a capital B – is used to indicate people with a shared history. Black is used in a broad political and inclusive sense to describe people in the UK who have suffered from colonialism and enslavement in the past and continue to experience racism and diminished opportunities in today’s society”
As a matter of urgency in the NHS, UNISON is asking employers to:
Identify what workforce data should be collected to aid a better understanding of the impact of Covid-19 and related issues to Black staff;
Identify how organisations can make sure their actions in deploying or redeploying staff to Covid-19 duties do not contribute to a disproportionate impact on healthcare workers from Black backgrounds;
Take actions to ensure tailoring and uptake of health and well-being and psychological support services by Black staff
Alastair Gittins, UNISON press officer on 07816 53 83 97